Parliamentary Chamber: Asamblea Legislativa


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  Asamblea Legislativa

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  3 February 2002

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all seats in Parliament on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.

Background and outcome of elections:

  More than 2.3 million Costa Ricans were registered to go to the polls on 2 February 2002 to elect the President, two Vice-Presidents, 57 legislators and 81 heads of local government.

For the first time, a third-party candidate contested the presidential election in addition to the historical parties, the ruling Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) and the National Liberation Party (PLN). The three campaigns focused on proposals to boost the coffee sector, a key export industry. The newly founded Citizen Action Party (PAC) fought the election on a populist platform, promising a crackdown on corruption and the introduction of protectionist economic policies. The PUSC candidate vowed to continue the free-market policies of outgoing President Rodriguez, while pledging to ensure a commitment to the poor through improved social spending. The PLN presidential candidate also came out against the privatisation of State-run industries.

Polling stations were quiet and orderly on the polling day. Authorities had urged voters to turn out in the hope of reducing the 30 per cent abstention level in the 1998 election. Nevertheless, the abstention rate for 2002 was even higher, reaching 31 per cent

International observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) gave the balloting a very positive assessment, declaring that they had witnessed an exceptional day of civics which could serve as an example to all countries on the continent.

Results of the first round of the presidential elections gave Mr Abel Pacheco, a 67-year-old psychiatrist, television commentator and novelist from the ruling Social Christian Unity Party a lead with 38.5 percent of the vote. Mr Rolando Araya, a 54-year-old chemical engineer from the National Liberation Party, finished second with 30.9 percent. Mr Otton Solis, 47, a PLN dissident running for the newly-created Citizen Action Party (PAC) scored 26 percent. Since no presidential candidate received the 40 per cent necessary to win the election outright, a runoff was held on 7 April 2002, the first in the country's 54-year, modern democratic history. The results of the run-off showed that Mr Pacheco won the elections handily with 58 percent of ballots to Mr Araya's 42 percent. The previously calm polling process was marred by violence as three supporters of President-elect Abel Pacheco, violently beat defeated presidential candidate Mr Araya after the results were announced.

In the elections to the 57-seat Legislative Assembly, the ruling PUSC secured 19 seats, a net loss of eight seats, whereas the PLN suffered a net loss of six seats, winning 17. Impressive gains were made by the rightist Liberty Movement (PML), which increased its representation from one seat to seven, and by the Citizen's Action Party (PAC), which took 13 seats.

On 1 May 2002, the Legislative Assembly held its first sitting and elected Mr Rolando Laclé (PUSC) as its Speaker.

Round no 1 (3 February 2002): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 2 279 851
Voters 1 569 418 (68.84%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 61 246
Valid votes 1 508 172

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Votes %
Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) 449 069 29.78
National Liberation Party (PLN) 408 822 27.11
Citizens' Action Party (PAC) 330 693 21.93
Liberty Movement (PML) 140 727 9.33
Costarician Renovation (PRC) 53 952 3.58

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) 19
National Liberation Party (PLN) 17
Citizens' Action Party (PAC) 13
Liberty Movement (PML) 7
Costarician Renovation (PRC) 1

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 39
Women: 18
Percent of women: 31.58

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Copyright © 2002 Inter-Parliamentary Union