Costa Rica is a democratic republic and the rules of the country and its citizens have been set out in the 1949 constitution. It is seen as having the most stable political economy in the whole of South and Central America. One of the major effects of the 1949 constitution was to abolish the army. By doing this the funds that were previously used to fund the army were redirected into health and education. Costa Rica has the best education and health care in the region and the benefits have spun off into the type of industries the county is able to support.
The “Central Building” home to the Government
In the country there are elections every 4 years to elect the president and 57 deputies to the Legislative Assembly. Election days are bank holidays in the country with everyone expected to vote. The day has a carnival atmosphere with the major parties setting up caravans outside the largest polling stations.
The country is split between the seven regions and the election of the deputies is related to the percentage of the vote each party picks up. Currently nine parties are represented in the Assembly and this is decided by the number of votes they are able to attain. There are another twelve political parties in the country, but they did not win enough votes in the 2014 election to win any seats.
Each of the major parties will have a presidential candidate. The two major parties the National Liberation Party and the Citizen Action Party hold primary elections to elect their candidate while other parties may use an internal election to produce their candidate.
Luis Guillermo Solis the president of Costa Rica
The current president is Luis Guillermo Solis of the Citizens Action Party (PAC) and he won the position after the first round of votes failed to secure the 40% needed to produce a clear winner. This resulted in a re-election, and after his main rival Johnny Araya of the National Liberation Party (PLN) withdrew, Solis achieved a 77% landslide victory.
The party currently with the most seats is the PLN with 18 and this is followed by Solis’s own party the PAC with 13 seats. His victory is made even more remarkable by the fact that he is the first president to be elected since 1966 that does not belong to the PLN. The president can only preside for one 4-year term of office so in February 2018 there will be an election for a new president in the country.
The Legislative Assembly are housed in the national congress building in the El Carmen District of San Jose. The building is known as the “Central Building” and was built in 1958. Construction actually started in 1937 but the Second World War caused great delays and was the reason why it took so long to complete.
Each of the 57 deputies can only serve one term before a new set of politicians are elected. However, a deputy can sit again if they chose to take a rest from office for at least one term. The deputies are paid from central government with the salaries of politicians always being under scrutiny within the country.
Costa Rica has created a political environment that reflects the stability of the country. Despite suffering recently from economic concerns, the country’s strong political standing holds it in good stead for future overseas investment.