Only six months away from the February 4, 2014, presidential election in Costa Rica, the former mayor of San José and official candidate of the Partido Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Party—PLN), Johnny Araya, holds a significant lead over his rivals in the most recent poll.
According to a local Borge y Asociados poll released on Monday, if elections were held today, Araya would win with 52.4 percent of the vote, followed by Rodolfo Hernandez of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (Christian Social Unity Party—USC) with 23.2 percent, Otto Guevara of the Movimiento Libertario (Libertarian Movement—ML) with 9.7 percent and Luis Guillermo Solis of the Partido de Acción Ciudadana (Citizen Action Party—PAC) with 8.2 percent of the vote.
The poll also revealed that the PLN—in power since 2006—is still the most popular political group in Costa Rica. If Araya is elected president, the PLN will become the first political party to rule for three consecutive presidential terms in the history of the Central American country.
Though they are both members of the PLN, Araya has distanced himself from President Laura Chinchilla—whom Mexico-based Mitofsky Consultants ranked as the least popular president in the Americas for a second consecutive year this April. Araya has stressed the need to renew the PLN’s image, which has been eroded by the low levels of approval of the current government.
According to AQ’s 2013 Social Inclusion Index, among the 16 countries measured, Costa Rica is the fourth most socially inclusive country in the Americas, led only by Uruguay, Chile and the United States. However, the country ranks low in perceived government responsiveness and civil society participation.
Next February, Costa Ricans will also elect their two vice presidents and the 57 members of the unicameral Legislative Assembly for four-year terms. This will be the first election in which the more than 50,000 Costa Ricans who live abroad will be able to participate by voting in one of the country’s 50 consulates.