Elections in Costa Rica

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politics and government of
Costa Rica

Costa Rica elects on national level a head of state, the president, and a legislature. The President of Costa Rica is, together with two vice-presidents, elected for a four-year term by the people. The Legislative Assembly (Asamblea Legislativa) has 57 members, elected for four-year terms by closed list proportional representation in each of the country's seven provinces.

Costa Rica Country in Central America

Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica, is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. It has a population of around 5 million in a land area of 51,060 square kilometers. An estimated 333,980 people live in the capital and largest city, San José with around 2 million people in the surrounding metropolitan area.

A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, and there is a separate de facto leader, often with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation.

The president is a common title for the head of state in most republics. In politics, president is a title given to leaders of republican states.




TypePresidential (February)
National Congress (February)
Gubernatorial (February)
NonePresidential (February)
National Congress (February)
Gubernatorial (February)
President and
vice president
President and vice presidentNonePresident and vice president
National CongressAll seatsNoneAll seats
Provinces, cities and municipalitiesAll positionsNoneAll positions


TypePresidential (May)
National Congress (May)
Gubernatorial (May)
NonePresidential (May)
National Congress (May)
Gubernatorial (May)
President and
vice president
8 MayNone8 May
National Congress8 MayNone8 May
Provinces, cities and municipalities8 MayNone8 May

2018 elections

2014 elections

2010 elections

e    d  Summary of the 7 February 2010 Costa Rican presidential election results
Candidates – PartiesVotes%
Laura ChinchillaNational Liberation Party 863,80346.78
Ottón SolísCitizens' Action Party 464,45425.15
Otto GuevaraLibertarian Movement Party 384,54020.83
Luis FishmanSocial Christian Unity Party 71,3303.86
Óscar LópezAccess without Exclusion 35,2151.91
Mayra GonzálezCosta Rican Renewal Party 13,3760.72
Eugenio TrejosBroad Front 6,8220.37
Rolando ArayaPatriotic Alliance Party *3,7950.21
Walter MuñozNational Integration Party *3,1980.17
Total (turnout 69.14%)1,846,533100.00
* Candidacy withdrawn in favour of Ottón Solís on 15 January 2010.
Source: TSE

See also

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Politics of Costa Rica democracy

The politics of Costa Rica take place in a framework of a presidential, representative democratic republic, with a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the president and his cabinet, and the President of Costa Rica is both the head of state and head of government. Legislative power is vested in the Legislative Assembly. The president and 57 Legislative Assembly deputies are elected for four-year terms. The judiciary operates independent of the executive and the legislature but remains involved in the political process. Costa Rica is a republic with a strong system of constitutional checks and balances. Voting is compulsory in Costa Rica but it is not enforced.

Foreign relations of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is an active member of the international community and, in 1983, claimed it was for neutrality. Due to certain powerful constituencies favoring its methods, it has a weight in world affairs far beyond its size. The country lobbied aggressively for the establishment of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and became the first nation to recognize the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Human Rights Court, based in San José.

President of Costa Rica head of state and head of government of Costa Rica

The President of Costa Rica is the head of state and head of government of Costa Rica. The President is currently elected in direct elections for a period of four years, which is not immediately renewable. Two Vice presidents are elected in the same ticket with the president. The president appoints the Council of Ministers. Due to the abolition of the military of Costa Rica in 1948, the president is not a Commander-in-chief, unlike the norm in most other countries, although the Constitution does describe him as commander in chief of the civil defense public forces.

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The Legislative Assembly is the unicameral legislative branch of the government of Costa Rica. The national congress building is located in the city capital, San José, specifically in El Carmen District in San José Canton.

The Costa Rican Civil War was the bloodiest event in 20th-century Costa Rican history. It lasted for 44 days, during which approximately 2,000 people are believed to have died. The conflict was precipitated by the vote of the Costa Rican Legislature, dominated by pro-government representatives, to annul the results of the presidential elections held in February, alleging that the triumph of opposition candidate Otilio Ulate had been achieved by fraud.

Vice President of Costa Rica

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According to the Political Constitution of Costa Rica of 1949, in article 168, the territorial division of Costa Rica is organized by law into three types of subnational entity:

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Constitution of Costa Rica

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Local government in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s municipal system is organized under the Municipal Code, the specific law that regulates the local governments. Municipalities are the second-level administration in Costa Rica after the central government. Each one of the 82 cantons of Costa Rica has a Municipality or Municipal Government constituted by a Mayor and a proportional number of members of the Municipal Council. Districts of each of the cantons also have their local authorities and representatives. Some of the services manage by local governments include; solid waste management, building and administration of local roads, parks, libraries and schools, recollection of municipal taxes and in some cases local security. Worth noticing that in Costa Rica city and municipality are not the same thing, as a canton can have several cities within its borders, generally as districts.

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