Costa Rica goes to the polls on Sunday in the first round of its presidential election, which looks like being the only national election for the month. Last time around, in 2018, six candidates had serious support, and the two that made the runoff had the same surname. Carlos Alvarado of the leftish Citizens’ Action Party won comfortably with 60.6% against right-wing evangelical Fabricio Alvarado.
Presidents cannot serve consecutive terms, so there will be another new face this time. There are 25 candidates on the ballot paper, but only three have been polling in double figures: Fabricio Alvarado again, former president José María Figueres of the centrist PLN, and former vice-president Lineth Saborío of the centre-right PUSC.
Another three candidates are in the mid- to high single figures, although Welmer Ramos, representing the president’s party, is not among them – he is struggling to register at all. Assuming no-one reaches 40%, there will be a runoff two months later, on 3 April.
All 57 seats in the legislature are also up for election. The PLN currently has the largest contingent with 16, and it’s safe to assume that again no single party will be close to a majority.
Meanwhile, Italy‘s indirect election of a president (previewed last week) ended in a complete failure to settle on a successor to incumbent Sergio Mattarella. The closest was the centre-right’s candidate Elisabetta Casellati, who won 382 votes in the fifth ballot – well short of the required 505, and an embarrassing display of disunity in what’s supposed to be a government of national unity.
Instead, the political leaders prevailed upon Mattarella, who at 80 had planned to retire, to agree to serve at least for part of a second term. He was duly elected with 759 votes on the eighth ballot.
It’s therefore pretty much a repeat of the 2013 election, when then-president Giorgio Napolitano (who was 87) was rather unwillingly chosen for a second term on the sixth ballot. He served for less than two more years, and in January 2015 Mattarella was elected to replace him. If the politicians can get their act together, expect a similar transition sometime next year.
Speaking of embarrassment, Barbados had gone to the polls a week earlier (see my preview here) and for the second time running returned a parliament with no opposition members: the Barbados Labour Party of prime minister Mia Mottley, with 69.0% of the vote (down 4.4%), won all 30 seats. Its main rival, the Democratic Labour Party, had 26.5% (up 4.7%).*
A D’Hondt calculation on those figures would have given the DLP eight seats to the government’s 22. But not only did the opposition walk away with nothing, they weren’t even particularly close: the best they could do was a margin of five points in St Philip North, or 235 votes.
And finally in Turkish Northern Cyprus, which voted on 23 January, the nationalist government of prime minister Faiz Sucuoğlu was returned, winning 39.5% of the vote (up 3.9%) and 24 of the 50 seats (up three). (See results here.) The opposition CTP made gains, taking 32.0% (up 11.1%) and 18 seats (up six), with third parties being the big losers. The Democratic Party, with 7.4%, retained its three seats and presumably will continue to support the government.