Costa Rica's likely next president eyes small firms

Presidential candidate Solís is expected to win the election after ruling party candidate Araya dropped out last month. Solís seeks to boost medium- and small-scale enterprise in Costa Rica.

Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters
Luis Guillermo Solís, presidential candidate of the Citizens' Action Party (PAC), smiles during a walk in San Jose Friday, April 4, 2014. Solís is expected to cruise to victory in the run-off election on April 6 after his ruling party rival dropped out in a bizarre twist last month.

If a presidential election takes place with only one candidate, can we still call it an election?

That’s the question facing Costa Rica after the ruling party’s candidate dropped out of the race last month after falling behind in polls, leaving only center-left challenger Luis Guillermo Solís campaigning for the second-round run-off Sunday (April 6), says our correspondent in San José. Both Solis and Johnny Araya will still appear on the ballot per electoral rules, but only Mr. Solís has actively campaigned in recent weeks. 

Solís is expected by all forecasts to win the presidency, but the greater risk now is whether he can also win the popular mandate.

“If nobody comes out to vote and Solís wins, that looks much worse than if many people showed up and Solís barely won,” says our correspondent.

There is also a risk that Solís supporters could feel overly confident, stay home, and not vote, which could raise the rate of absenteeism and give die-hard supporters of the ruling National Liberation Party’s Mr. Araya a chance to eke out a victory, adds our correspondent. It’s no wonder then that Solís has continued knocking on doors, paying for television spots, sitting for interviews, and publicly announcing a drive for more than 1 million votes – nearly half of total eligible voters.

Expect a President Solís to focus on boosting medium- and small-scale enterprise in Costa Rica, according to our correspondent. Solís has said that the country relies too heavily on foreign employers and exports rather than supporting local jobs with local businesses. But also don’t expect a sudden cold shoulder toward foreign investment, as Solís recognizes the value of US firms such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard who have turned this tiny Central American nation into a top global producer of microprocessors, adds our correspondent.

“He’s walking this line between wanting to court foreign business and finding a way to develop other sections of the economy left behind,” says our correspondent.... For the rest of the story, continue reading at our new business publication Monitor Global Outlook.

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