San Jose, Costa Rica

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Costa Rica elected Laura Chinchilla to be the country’s first woman president in a festive election day that proved to be a major victory for the incumbent party of President Oscar Arias, of the centrist National Liberation Party (PLN).

Chinchilla, 50, who had stepped down as Arias’ vice president last year to campaign for president, garnered nearly 47 percent of the vote, with 70 percent of the votes counted by 11 p.m. The result confounded most analysts’ expectations and surpassed Chinchilla’s ranking in the polls, which sank to 41.9 percent in a Unimer survey published last week in the daily La Nación.

Ottón Solís, candidate of the center-left Citizen Action Party (PAC), earned just below 25 percent of the vote as of 11 p.m., while the right-wing Libertarian Movement’s (ML) Otto Guevara garnered 21 percent.

After campaigning under the slogan “Laura: Firme y Honesta,” Chinchilla won all seven provinces, which is the first time in a quarter century this has happened.

“Wives and working women continue overcoming barriers to make a greater Costa Rica,” Chinchilla said in her acceptance speech, as the poll results continued to come out. “All the women and also the men who have accompanied us have made it possible that a daughter of this country can today be president.”

Chinchilla’s highest priority will be to guarantee the security and safety of Costa Ricans, she said, as well as to meet all of her campaign promises. She called on the PAC and the ML to join with her to solve the nation’s problems.

Source: The Tico Times and La Nación