An inevitable outcome gave way to an official celebration Sunday when Luis Guillermo Solís was elected as Costa Rica’s next president.
Though the second round of voting was drained of any suspense following the opposition’s campaign suspension last month, that didn’t stop Partido Acción Ciudadana supporters from throwing a spirited party at Plaza Roosevelt. Solís spoke in front of the large gathering of his faithful after the new president elect’s landslide lead in the voting became evident.
He thanked his advocates and voters, commenting that it takes a brave and progressive population to demand a change from a political dynasty like the one held by Partido Liberación Nacional.
“Thank you for trusting in me and not being afraid to regain excitement as we walk down these new hopeful paths,” Solís said.
Preliminary results from Sunday night showed Acción Ciudadana had garnered 77.8 percent of the votes compared to 22.15 percent for Liberación Nacional.
Still, nearly half of the country’s registered voters abstained from filling out ballots, according to the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones.
While the president elect again echoed the virtues of change he carried throughout his campaign, he said this was a historic moment of transition for Costa Rica.
“I proclaim this as the beginning of the era of Acción Ciudadana,” Solís said. “This nation has decided to change.”
Solís’ speech touched on maintaining peace with the nation’s neighbors, nature and the environment, as well as more concentrated efforts in protecting animals. He said that under his watch the maltreatment of wildlife would not be tolerated.
He also promised that there would be no more political corruption during his four years in office. What makes this country stand out, he said, is the strong-minded and compassionate people that make up its strong fabric.
“The people decided to make the change, paradoxically, so that they wouldn’t have to change their identity,” he said.
In a press conference before Solís’ speech, rival candidate Johnny Araya Monge said the people expressed the desired change in an overwhelming matter. A member of the party that has held Casa Presidencial for the past eight years, Araya noted that there is an unwritten rule in Costa Rican politics that prevents a party from winning the presidency three straight times. He said he left the results of the election in God’s hands after he withdrew from active campaigning on March 5.
“I receive these results with serenity, tranquility, maturity,” he said. “I recognize and respect the results that we now have. I have already congratulated president elect Luis Guillermo Solís via telephone.”
Solís, a university professor, who will take office on May 8, is the first ever president elected from Acción Ciudadana.
By Michael Krumholtz
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff