Carlos Alvarado Quesada has been elected as Costa Rica’s new president, beating the conservative evangelical candidate Fabricio Alvarado.
Alvarado won more than 61% of votes, against 39% for Fabricio Alvarado, who had surged from obscurity in the February first round by harshly criticizing moves to recognize gay marriage.
In his victory speech, the president-elect has emphasized national “unity” as he vowed to boost education and infrastructure spending, while bringing down the country’s ballooning deficit.
However, his Citizens’ Action Party holds just 10 seats in the 57-seat Legislative Assembly, so he will need to build a coalition to rule. Analysts say he will vigorously pursue the policies of outgoing President Luis Guillermo Solis.
The president-elect will confront not only the challenge of uniting electorates over the issue of same-sex marriage but also tackling the highest fiscal deficit on record, at 6.2% of gross domestic product, and an unemployment rate that hit 9.3% at the end of last year.
Widening the fiscal deficit has been exerting immense pressure on the current administration to deliver spending cuts.
Another problem Alvarado needs to deal with quickly is the increasing rate of homicides. Gang violence is a major reason for the rising homicide rates in the northern triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. However, Costa Rica has long been considered safe. But the recent upsurge in crime rate is worrying policy makers.
Aside from the divisive gay marriage issue, key voter concerns were unemployment, the cost of living, and corruption.