New assembly head favors expense cuts

Parties in opposition to that of President Luis Guillermo Solís took the leadership positions in the legislature for another year.

Elected president of the Asamblea Legislative was Antonio Álvarez Desanti of the Partido Liberación Nacional. He was president in 1995, too.

He promised an emphasis on reducing governmental expenses. He also said he supports renewing a tax on corporations but not the package of new taxes as proposed by the Solís administration.

He was the candidate of what was called the Alianza de Oposición.  He suggested that he might seek election next year, too, so that he would have the leadership job for two years.

Each May 1 the legislature elects new leadership. The election this year was contentious, and 57 lawmakers needed three rounds of votes to pick Álvarez. He gained 29 votes, but the total will go into the records as 35 because of the way the legislature counts blank ballots.

Liberación, Movimiento Libertario and the Partido Renovación Costarricense also gained leadership spots.

As president, Álvarez has power to select the measures that will be considered by lawmakers and also to name the chairpersons of the various committees that consider bills.

President Solís has pushed hard for a value-added tax and an increase in the upper levels of the income tax. But those plans appear to be dead with the election of the Liberación lawmaker and his team.

Candidates whose parties might favor the president’s tax plan were frozen out of leadership roles.

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