Costa Rica has a new (conservative) president

The 60-years-old economist Rodrigo Chaves beat former president José María Figueres. But Costa Rica's economic future is not yet clear.

The 60-years-old economist Rodrigo Chaves is Costa Rica's new president. Photo: Ministro de Hacienda de Costa Rica.

The economist Rodrigo Chaves will be the new president of Costa Rica. He beat his rival, former president José María Figueres, on Sunday. With more than 95% of the tables counted on Monday morning, the politician from the Social Democratic Progress Party (PSD) was leading the dispute with 52.9% of the valid votes, while his opponent from the National Liberation Party (PLN) had 47.1%. In his first message, the elected president promised unity and asked for the support of the opposition — with only ten deputies from his party in a Parliament of 57 seats; the new president will need to negotiate a lot with his opponents.

Similar to what happened in the first round, the second electoral round was marked by abstention:42.85% of the 3.5 million Costa Rican voters did not turn up at the polls.

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“Costa Rica is not a poor country, but a very poorly managed one,” was of the phrases most used by the president-elect. But Costa Rica’s future is not yet clear. Maybe more concrete signs will come out in the following weeks.

Chaves did not disclose much of his government plan but committed himself to reduce paperwork and facilitating business action, attracting investment, generating employment, reducing social expenses, and supporting the coastal sectors, the poorest in the country. At the same time, Chaves flirted with evangelical sectors by signing an agreement with some of his representatives. In addition, he promised to eliminate the so-called “gender ideology” in the educational system.

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As in other Latin American countries, this movement has gained ground in Costa Rica in recent years. Moves like this, together with his criticism of the press, made him be compared several times, during the campaign, to his Latin American counterparts AMLO and Jair Bolsonaro

Chaves faced allegations of sexual harassment at the World Bank, where he worked until 2019. The 60-year-old economist, however, called the acts that led to the claims chistes¹ Shortly after joining the World Bank, Chaves was finance minister in the current government of Carlos Alvarado for six months.

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