Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera became the forty-seventh president of Costa Rica yesterday. Solís, 56, appeared alongside First Lady Mercedes Peñas Domingo at the National Stadium in San José for the inauguration ceremony, saying, “We want to effectively combat poverty, not just administer it.” In addition to its plan to reduce poverty, Solís’ administration will face a divided legislative assembly, ongoing border issues with Nicaragua, and the challenge of regaining Costa Ricans’ trust in politicians and the government.
The victory for Solís and the leftist Partido Acción Ciudadana (Citizen Action Party—PAC) marks the first time since 1948 that a non-traditional party has interrupted the two-party dominance of the Partido Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Party—PNL) and the Partido de Unidad Socialcristiana (Social Christian Unity Party). On April 6, Solís won an astounding 78 percent of the votes in the second round of the Costa Rican elections. This after PLN candidate Johnny Araya dropped out of the presidential runoff race following a poll that showed that Solís already had a commanding 44 percent lead.
The outgoing president, Laura Chinchilla, has faced criticism for the country’s weak infrastructure and growing debt, and her inability to address various scandals. Her PLN party has been in power for the last 8 years.