The bipartisan system that practically
prevailed in Costa Rica for decades was broken in 2014,
when the presidential election was won by the
center-left Party Citizens Action (PAC). Despite quite
dissatisfaction with the government, PAC's candidate
also won in the 2018 presidential election, when the
decisive round came against an arch-conservative
candidate. When President Carlos Alvarado took office,
he put a fossil-free Costa Rica at the top of the
When he took office in May 2018, Carlos Alvarado was
only 38 years old and thus the youngest head of state in
Latin America. He is a journalist and writer and was for
one year labor minister in the government of the
representative Luis Guillermo Solí.
Country facts and history of Costa Rica, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Alvarado's government became the first
woman-dominated government in Costa Rica. Among the
women is Vice President Epsy Campbell, who is the first
Vice President in Latin America with African roots. She
also became the first female foreign minister in Costa
In his inaugural speech, Alvarado said that Costa
Rica will be one of the first - if not the first -
country in the world to completely switch to renewable
energy. Other challenges for the government were the
growing budget deficit which is above 6 percent of GDP.
Another problem is the increasing crime rate, in 2017
603 people were murdered. It still means a low homicide
rate compared to other countries in the region, but was
the highest number so far in Costa Rica.
Split political landscape
Alvarado needs support from other parties to get
through its policies. The Citizens' Action (PAC) lost
three seats in the parliamentary elections and has only
ten seats in the Legislative Assembly.
The 2018 presidential election solidifies the image
of a new and unpredictable political landscape in Costa
Rica. The two candidates who received the most votes in
the first round were not even among the three favorite
tipped candidates. B ara weeks before elections in
February, gay rights unexpectedly a hot election issue.
The reason was that the OAS Human Rights Tribunal (see
Foreign Policy and Defense) issued a ruling that called
for Costa Rica and other countries in the region to
legalize same-sex marriage. This led to a strong upswing
for Fabricio Alvarado and the National Restoration Party
(PRN), a small Christian right-wing party. Fabricio
Alvarado got the most votes in the first round of the
presidential election and the PRN went from 1 to 14
seats in the legislative assembly.
Fabricio Alvarado's social conservative attitude
obviously won him a lot of support but also aroused a
strong backlash. His opponent in the decisive round of
the presidential election, PAC candidate Carlos Alvarado
(the two are not related), won by 61 percent of the
vote. The PAC thus managed - fairly unsubtly - to retain
the presidential power for a second term in a row. In
the Legislative Assembly, however, the party backed
down, from 13 to 10 seats.
The PAC has been formed by defectors from the
long-dominant National Liberation Front (PLN), which is
basically social democratic but which has moved right.
The PLN has traditionally been seen as a guarantor of
the welfare system that the Costa Ricans are proud of.
At the same time, PLN was running a market-liberal
policy in the office of the Government of the Republic
and largely relied on members to the right of the
congress, as well as having the PAC as the main
opponent. In the 2014 election, PLN lost a quarter of
its mandate and the 2018 election is described as the
worst in PLN's history.
When the corona pandemic hit the world in the spring
of 2020, Costa Rica introduced other restrictions, as
well as investing in strengthening health care
resources. Costa Rica at least initially managed very
well from the infection and by the end of May, only
about 900 corona cases had been registered and ten
deaths in covid-19 were reported.
Read more about the events in the Calendar.
FACTS - POLITICS
La Republic of Costa Rica / Republic of Costa Rica
republic, unitary state
Head of State and Government
President Carlos Alvarado (2018–)
Most important parties with mandates in the
National Liberation Party (PLN) 17, National
Restoration Party (PRN) 14, Citizens' Action (PAC) 10,
Christian Social Unity Party (Pusc) 9, National
Integration Party (PIN) 4, Others 3 (2018)
Main parties with mandates in the second most
National Liberation Party (PLN) 18, Citizens' Action
(PAC) 13, Broad Front (FA) 9, Christian Social Unity
Party (Pusc) 8, Libertarian Movement (ML) 4, Others 5
68% in the parliamentary elections and the 1st round
of the 2018 presidential election
presidential and parliamentary elections 2022