Rodrigo Chaves on Track to Become Costa Rica’s New Leader

Rodrigo Chaves, a former World Financial institution official who has promised to shake up the political system of Central America’s most steady nation, was on observe to turn into Costa Rica’s new president, in accordance with preliminary election outcomes on Sunday evening.

Mr. Chaves, 60, led his opponent, former President José María Figueres, by practically share factors after 95 p.c of the voting facilities reported outcomes, the nation’s electoral authorities stated about two hours after the polls closed.

Mr. Figueres later conceded defeat, although the ultimate outcomes are anticipated to be introduced this week after the votes are manually licensed.

Mr. Chaves returned to the nation in 2019 after a long time overseas and rose from obscurity in simply months by presenting himself as a maverick outsider, skillfully exploiting well-liked discontent with the Latin American political institution.

He denounced the nation’s conventional political events, massive enterprise and the information media. And he vowed to bypass Congress and different democratic establishments by holding referendums on the essential coverage points.

Each candidates had been damage by scandal, which contributed to the bottom turnout because the Nineteen Forties within the first spherical of elections, held in February. Solely one in four registered voters solid their ballots for one of many two candidates, undercutting a celebration system that has spared Costa Rica the political upheavals seen elsewhere in Central America however that has come to be seen by most residents as corrupt and out of contact with individuals’s on a regular basis issues.

Mr. Chaves has been embroiled in a marketing campaign financing scandal, and he has fought to attenuate and misrepresent a World Financial institution sexual harassment investigation of him. Mr. Figueres has struggled to shake off accusations of corruption courting from his first presidency, within the Nineties.

“Costa Ricans are turning away from their political events,” stated James Bosworth, founding father of the Latin America-focused political consultancy Hxagon. The nation, he stated, “goes to have a tough time fixing its challenges with out that sturdy political system.”

These challenges embrace financing Costa Rica’s massive public sector and social spending commitments, reactivating its service-dependent financial system after the pandemic and defending its pristine setting from the results of local weather change.

Mr. Chaves rose to the highest of the polls prior to now month, after polling simply 2 p.c as not too long ago as August, reflecting the nation’s disillusionment with Mr. Figueres’s Nationwide Liberation Occasion, Costa Rica’s oldest and largest political get together.

To emphasise his picture as an underdog, Mr. Chaves preferred to inform voters that his father was the bodyguard of Mr. Figueres’s father, José Figueres Ferrer, a nation-defining determine who constructed the Nationwide Liberation Occasion after main the successful faction within the nation’s temporary civil battle within the Nineteen Forties. Mr. Figueres stated Friday that Mr. Chaves’s father “by no means” labored for his household.

Mr. Chaves, 60, returned to Costa Rica after 27 years on the World Financial institution, the place he rose to the rank of director because the financial institution’s senior consultant in Indonesia, a serious creating financial system. He left the financial institution simply days after he was demoted for misconduct following sexual harassment complaints introduced towards him by two feminine workers.

He has dismissed the accusations by claiming the investigators by no means proved that sexual harassment had taken place, a declare that was contradicted by the decision of the World Financial institution’s inside tribunal in June, issued practically two years after Mr. Chaves left the financial institution.

The accusations didn’t seem to sway the voters.

Mr. Chaves started clashing with Costa Rica’s democratic establishments even earlier than the announcement of the ultimate outcomes, shaking nation’s normally civic elections.

The nation’s electoral courtroom in current weeks stated it was investigating the irregular funds {that a} group of allied businessmen funneled to his marketing campaign. Mr. Chaves stated earlier than Sunday’s vote that he didn’t know these funds existed.

And on Sunday, the electoral courtroom stated a strategist for Mr. Chaves’s marketing campaign tried intimidating ballot employees by distributing a sequence message by WhatsApp that threatened them with jail.

Mr. Figueres had centered his marketing campaign on attacking Mr. Chaves’s relative lack of political expertise, which is confined to his six-month stint because the finance minister of the departing president, Carlos Alvarado.

However Mr. Figueres was unable to distance himself from his personal corruption accusations, that are associated to consulting charges he obtained from a French telecommunications firm after ending his first presidential time period in 1998.

Mr. Figueres denied giving the corporate preferential remedy whereas in workplace, and prosecutors who investigated the funds, which occurred between 2000 and 2003, didn’t press prices. But Mr. Figueres’s determination to wait out the results of the investigation in Europe, the place he was residing on the time, left a long-lasting impression of wrongdoing amongst many Costa Ricans.

“I congratulate Rodrigo Chaves, and I want him one of the best,” Mr. Figueres advised supporters after the preliminary outcomes had been introduced.

Each candidates declined to be interviewed for this text.

Regardless of Mr. Chaves’s clinching the victory, analysts stated, his weak assist in Congress, the nation’s sturdy unbiased courts and weak public funds will make it troublesome to make good on his marketing campaign promise to extend social spending to halt rising inequality and crime.

His get together can have solely 10 of Costa Rica’s 57 congressional seats.

“You’re going to get a cycle the place individuals turn into more and more disillusioned with the political system,” stated Mr. Bosworth, the analyst. Mr. Chaves, he stated, lacks “a preferred platform that can have the ability to meet expectation.”

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