Following his victory in the presidential election, Costa Rican maverick Chaves makes a pitch to the opposition.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) – After a gruelling election campaign in which the former World Bank official vowed to break with traditional politics, economist Rodrigo Chaves extended a hand to the opposition after winning the Costa Rican presidency on Sunday.

After defeating former President Jose Maria Figueres in a run-off vote by around 53 percent to 47 percent, the bearded 60-year-old Chaves swiftly discarded his hostile campaign language and said it was time to work together, according to early data.

“Let’s put aside the party colours that might easily separate us tonight,” Chaves urged dozens of cheering fans in San Jose, the capital, on Sunday night. “I respectfully request that we join beneath our national flag’s blue, white, and red.”

Chaves’ Social Democratic Progress Party (PPSD) will join power next month with only 10 of the 57 seats in the national parliament, while Figueres’ party, which won first in a tense first round vote in February, has 19.

Turnout was the lowest in decades, at 57 percent, reflecting voter indifference in Costa Rica, where difficult economic times have exacerbated dissatisfaction with the political elite.

Chaves, whose candidacy was hampered by allegations of sexual harassment arising from his employment at the World Bank, had promised to bypass parliament by using referenda, as well as to help the poor by keeping the price of basic items low.

He has refuted the charges of sexual harassment on several occasions. His views, belligerent manner, and confrontational approach to foreign policy, on the other hand, the media drew comparisons to other anti-establishment leaders in the Americas, including former U.S. president Donald Trump.

At a downtown hotel, a few dozen Chaves fans gathered for a small but boisterous watch party. Before the results were announced, there was dancing, and the party continued after his address.

As they passed the hotel where Figueres’ supporters had assembled, caravans of revellers celebrating Chaves’ triumph honked their automobile horns. Inside, there was a gloomy atmosphere, and party flags were promptly dropped once Figueres yielded.


In the end, Chaves’ idea that he could give Costa Ricans a new start proved decisive in defeating Figueres, who served as president from 1994 to 1998 and is a member of one of the country’s most influential political dynasties.

Adrian Salazar, 57, and his family were among the Chaves supporters who gathered in central San Jose to celebrate.

Salazar attributed the victory to a “hunger for true change,” saying, “I voted knowing we weren’t going to win, but confident that we need fresh faces to preserve the country.”

Despite this, Chaves mentioned Figueres’ father, three-time president Jose Figueres Ferrer, in his victory speech as he worked to win over opponents to assist him govern.

Chaves has worked for the World Bank for over three decades and is no stranger to politics. He temporarily served as finance minister under outgoing President Carlos Alvarado, who is not eligible to run for re-election because of a legislation prohibiting him from doing so.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, Chaves attempted to emphasise his economic credentials in his campaign pitch to Costa Ricans, who had watched unemployment steadily climb, inequality rise, and the country sink further into debt over the past two decades.

The country committed to $1.78 billion in financial aid from the International Monetary Fund in January 2021.

In exchange, the government promised to implement a slew of economic reforms and austerity measures to help stabilise the country’s finances. However, the disjointed legislature has made little progress against them thus far.

By 12news World

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