Weekly Report - 07 April 2022 (WR-22-14)

Costa Rica heads into uncertainty as outsider Chaves wins run-off

The victory of anti-establishment candidate Rodrigo Chaves in the 3 April presidential run-off has upended politics in Costa Rica, one of the region’s most stable democracies. Sexual harassment allegations and a campaign finance scandal ultimately failed to deter an apathetic electorate, frustrated with a discredited ruling class, from picking Chaves, a former World Bank (WB) official who briefly served as finance minister (2019-2020), over first round victor, former president José María Figueres (Partido Liberación Nacional, 1994-1998), a scion of the political elite. Chaves will lack a legislative majority and could struggle to enact his agenda. His victory signals not only a break with the status quo but could test Costa Rica’s very institutions: his manifesto pledges to expand “direct democracy”, and his attacks on the media and populist rhetoric have invoked comparisons with authoritarian leaders such as El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele, raising questions about Chaves’ commitment to playing by democratic rules.

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