Runoff election Sunday is at least a little weird and may get worse

The runoff election next Sunday is a weird one with a candidate who is not campaigning, another who never expected to get this far and a lot of citizens who may not vote.

In addition, the election is being observed by successful legislative candidates who probably had no idea that they would win.

Luis Antonio Sobrado, president of the election tribunal, took to the television Sunday night to encourage Costa Ricans to vote. He also told those who had manned voting locations Feb. 2 that they also should show up Sunday.

Luis Guillermo Solís, the Acción Ciudadana presidential candidate, has been campaigning all over the country even though Johnny Araya Monge of Partido Liberación Nacional, his runoff opponent, has said he ceased his campaign. Solís and his campaign strategists are well aware of the strength that the 66-year-old Liberación party has even without an active candidate.

Although Araya says he is not campaigning, his party members are very much in the fray. No one in Acción Ciudadana has said so in public, but some fear they may be blindsided if supporters of Solís stay home. Araya has been clear that he has stopped campaigning but that he still is a candidate.

It was the well-oiled Liberación network outside of the Central Valley that brought a close victory to Óscar Arias Sánchez eight years ago.

For Sobrado at the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, much of the concern is logistical. If enough of those who have been assigned to staff the voting locations fail to show up, election day will be a catastrophe. Even with a close election, perhaps as many as 40 percent of the eligible voters stay home.  So with what appears to be a shoo-in for Solís might set new records in absenteeism.

Whoever wins will face a divided legislature. Liberación and Acción Ciudadana are both left of center, but the far left new lawmakers of Frente Amplio, who never expected to be elected, are certain to try to promote legislation in that direction. They also are expected to be rambunctious.

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