Different groups advance plans for country’s future

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The Times Square ball has not come down to mark the beginning of 2012, but the political season is well under way with an eye to the 2014 elections. But there is not a clear trend.

Former president  José María Figueres Olsen, who says he is not a presidential candidate, nevertheless has come out with what he called Plan País Vía Costa Rica.  Figueres is a distant third in popularity among members of the Partido Liberación Nacional. That party’s presidential candidate will be either Johnny Araya, the current mayor of San José, or Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, the brother of the former president. So the plan by Figueres appears to be the initial step in creating another political party.

Another series of proposals that stop short of being a full-blown political party is the Agenda estratégica para el futuro de Costa Rica. This coalition includes professionals, academics and former public employees, according to a summary released by Jaime Ordoñez, the coordinator.

Helio Fallas, a former cabinet official and an economist, said that the country cannot continue favoring the concentration of wealth. In addition the Agenda estratégica may urge changes in the nation’s tax system to eliminate loopholes.

Some 50 persons are said to have been involved in creating these proposals. They were outlined Monday at a meeting in La Sabana.

Under Costa Rican law, President Laura Chinchilla cannot run immediately for reelection, and public opinion polls show that she could not win anyway.

In the meantime, her Partido Liberación Nacional continues to dominate the legislature, and other once-strong parties seem to have fallen on hard times.

However, some politicians think that Liberación, despite its strong grassroots organization, may be vulnerable. So this has encouraged competition.

The Alianza Patriótica is coming of age as a full-scale national political party. The core mainly include those who still oppose the free trade treaty with the United States and other Central American countries.

There still is a lot of crossover among these groups as they maneuver for leverage in the coming year.

Former Liberación presidential candidate Rolando Araya, for example, was the presidential candidate of Alianza Patriótica in 2010. He recently announced that he supports his brother for the Liberación nomination. But he also has been in discussions with Figueres and is listed as one of the 50 persons who helped draw up the Agenda estratégica.

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