February election roundup

Costa Rica

The first round of Costa Rica’s presidential election, held last Sunday, produced no great surprises (see preview here). The runoff, to be held on April Fool’s Day, will be between two candidates with the same surname: Christian fundamentalist Fabricio Alvarado, who led with 24.9%, and the candidate of the incumbent Citizens’ Action Party, Carlos Alvarado, who had 21.7%. (Official results here.)

There’s no sign of any second round hypothetical polling, but Fabricio Alvarado would be better placed to attract the votes of those who supported the centre-right’s Rodolfo Piza (who finished on 16.0%) and Trumpist Juan Diego Castro (9.5%), while Carlos Alvarado should get the bulk of the support of the third placegetter, centrist Antonio Álvarez (18.6%).

In any case, a lot can happen between now and April, so we’ll have another look at this closer to the time.

As expected, no party is even close to a majority in the legislature, but the centrist National Liberation Party will remain the largest party with 17 of the 57 seats, despite the fact that its presidential candidate could only manage third.


The other presidential election at the weekend was in Cyprus (previewed briefly here), which boasts the only fully executive presidency in Europe. Centre-right incumbent Nicos Anastasiades maintained and in fact increased somewhat his lead from the first round, beating Communist Stavros Malas 56.0% to 44.0% (official results here).

That’s a very similar result to last time, when Anastasiades won with 57.5%. Cypriots evidently feel that he’s performed adequately in a difficult job, although there’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm: turnout was 74.0%, up slightly on the first round but well down on 2013.

Nonetheless, Cyprus seems to have mostly escaped the rise of the Trumpist right. Christos Christou of the fascist ELAM (sister party to Greece’s Golden Dawn) managed just 5.7% in the first round to finish a distant fourth.


The third vote on Sunday was a referendum in Ecuador, where, in contrast to the usual pattern, a president was proposing (among other things) to strengthen rather than weaken term limits. Other questions included, according to the BBC, “a proposal to bar officials convicted of corruption from politics” and “measures to limit the mining of minerals in environmentally protected areas and to end the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against minors.”

All seven questions were approved by large margins, ranging from 63% to 74% (official results should be here, but I can’t get them to load so I’m using Wikipedia’s summary.)

The referendum was a project of president Lenín Moreno, who was elected last year on a radical left ticket but has since fallen out with his predecessor, Rafael Correa. Correa led the “no” campaign, seeing it (no doubt correctly) as an attempt to prevent him running for the presidency at the end of Moreno’s term.


There’s only one national election this weekend, and it’s a small one – in fact, if you don’t count the Vatican, it’s the smallest country in the world. Monaco, which occupies about two square kilometres of prime coastline in the far south-east of France, goes to the polls to elect the 24 members of its National Council.

Sixteen are elected by first-past-the-post block voting, and the other eight by proportional representation, so huge majorities are the norm. At the last election, in 2013, Monaco Horizon (broadly centre-right) won 20 seats with its 50.3% of the vote. Its main opponent, Union for Monaco (broadly centrist), won 39.0% and three seats, while a new third party, Renaissance, had 10.7% and one seat.

Information on the election is hard to come by – French-readers can find the occasional story at Monaco-Matin, an obvious clone of Nice-Matin – but apparently Monaco Horizon and Union for Monaco are both running, as is a new ticket, Priority Monaco.

Constitutionally, Monaco is rather strange. Its head of state, Prince Albert II, is a constitutional monarch, but has considerable power. Legislature and executive are separate; the executive is headed (under the prince) by the minister of state, currently Serge Telle. Like his predecessors, Telle is a French civil servant, appointed by the prince on the advice of the French government, so although it was admitted to the United Nations in 1993, Monaco’s independence is somewhat illusory.



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