Elections in Costa Rica and El Salvador

Presidential elections are taking place today in two countries in Central America, El Salvador and Costa Rica. The latter country also has legislative elections, whereas El Salvador uses a non-concurrent cycle and will not elect its National Assembly for another year.

DW says:

Experts say both of Sunday’s votes will result in runoffs, as neither candidate leading in the polls is likely to get the 50 percent plus one vote needed to declare victory.

One might wonder who these experts are, as in Costa Rica, it takes 40% to win in a single round, not a majority.

For El Salvador, an average of five recent polls puts the incumbent Vice President Salvador Sanchez of the FMLN in the lead, but indeed well short of a majority: 35.6%. The ARENA candidate, Norman Quijano, currently mayor of San Salvador, is second with an average of 31.3% in the polls. In third with around 11% is Elias Antonio Saca of GANA. Saca is a former president from ARENA who split from his party with a good chunk of its caucus in the current National Assembly to lend support to Mauricio Funes, elected in 2009 as the first president from the FMLN. Obviously, his voters will prove pivotal in the upcoming presidential race just as his votes have been pivotal in the legislature.

As for Costa Rica, the race is said to be tight between Johnny Araya of the ruling National Liberation Party and Jose Maria Villalta from a left-wing Broad Front that has been only a marginal force until now. In fact, other than in 2002, Costa Rica has never required a runoff, as it has had two parties generally dominant since the current democratic regime was founded in the late 1940s. However, in recent years it has been more fragmented. (In 2006 the winner barely averted a runoff, and both leading candidates were just barely over 40%.) Perhaps runoffs are going to be needed more frequently in the future.

4 thoughts on “Elections in Costa Rica and El Salvador

  1. According to Univision TV news, Sanchez is over 49% with about 80% of the vote counted, and leading by around ten percentage points. But he is not thought likely to get over 50%.

    In Costa Rica, Araya is ahead but with only a little over 30%, so a runoff is definitely needed. In a very close second place is Luis Guillermo Solis, not Villalta, who is in a rather distant third. Solis is referred to by Reuters as “leftist newcomer”, meaning “Araya could face the prospect of a consolidated left-wing vote in the run-off”. But their combined votes remain short of 50%, so don’t count Araya out.

    Finally, back to El Salvador, the ticket Saca headed is called Unidad. What happened to Gana?

  2. The plurality by Luis Guillermo Solis, who was in third place until well into the campaign, is quite a surprise. He won 30.9%, just edging out Araya (29.6%). Villalta wound up with 17.2%. As I said yesterday, I still would not count Araya out, but I certainly do not know enough about Costa Rican politics to offer a prediction. In fact, till yesterday, I did not know there was a leftist candidate expected to break 15%, let alone two of them!

  3. I do not know what the seat breakdown will be yet, but the PLN did several percentage points worse in the legislative vote than in presidential. (Nothing unusual in that: smaller parties usually do better in a concurrent PR contest than for president.) The PLN has 25.2% as of “Corte No. 20” from the TSE. Accion Ciudadano (the ticket backing Solis) is second on 23.8%, third is the Broad Front on 13.1%, and fourth is the old right-wing party that used to be one of Costa Rica’s top two, Unidad Social Cristiana, at only 10%. (The latter’s presidential candidate won only only 6%.)

    Costa Rica has one of the world’s largest self-defined Libertarian parties, and it actually did better for president (11.2%) than for congress (7.9%.)

    By my calculation, the effective number of vote-winning parties was 6.21. The effective number of presidential candidates was 4.36. Both easily break the record for the country’s elections back to 1953. The old averages and maximums were 3.21 and 4.84 for vote-winning legislative parties and 2.37 and 3.30 for presidential candidates. (Historical figures based on Bormann and Golder’s dataset.)

    Costa Rica’s party system sure is unrecognizable from what it was for so long!

  4. The PAC has been the second party since 2006, when corruption scandals within the government pretty much destroyed the PUSC as a competitive party. They were written off for most of this election (the first they’ve contested without founder Ottón Solís), probably because almost no one had heard of Luis Guillermo Solís, who came out of nowhere to win the PAC primaries by just 113 votes after polling in the 2-4% range in pre-primary polls.

    The PUSC actually came back to poll in second for most of Chinchilla’s term, and I believe they were in second in the polls until their original nominee chose to quit in October. That, plus growing corruption scandals within the PLN, seemed to throw open the door to an alternative from outside the traditional two-party system.

    It either seems that Costa Rica has a far worse polling issue than either British Columbia or the Republican Party, or else that Psephos really likes Solís.

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