Costa Rican general election, 2002

Costa Rican general election, 2002

Costa Rica

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General elections were held in Costa Rica on 3 February 2002. For the first time in the country's history, no candidate in the presidential election passed the 40% threshold. This meant a second round of voting had to be held on 7 April, which saw Abel Pacheco of the Social Christian Unity Party defeat the National Liberation Party's Rolando Araya Monge.

The parliamentary election was also fragmented owing to the emergence of a well-supported third party (the Citizens' Action Party), breaking the two-party mould of previous elections. The Social Christian Unity Party emerged as the largest party, but held only 19 of the 57 seats, nine fewer than the previous lowest since the number of seats was raised to 57 in the 1960s. The result did not favour Pacheco, affecting his ability to govern and forcing him to seek alliances and consensus to get legislation approved.

Despite the close contest, voter turnout was only 68.8% on 3 February, the lowest since the 1958 elections. For the second round of the presidential elections it fell to 60.2%, the lowest since 1949.


Before the election, the country's Supreme Electoral Tribinal attempted to make several reforms to the electoral system. These included allowing independents to run in local elections, using electronic voting machines, allowing Costa Ricans living abroad to vote, and allowing voters to choose the top two places on parliamentary lists. However, the changes were rejected by the Legislative Assembly, which noted that independent candidature was incompatible with the constitution, and that electronic voting could not be guaranteed to be secure or transparent.





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