When Libertarian Movement (ML) candidate Otto Guevara emerged from his hotel room after the early results of Sunday’s presidential election were announced, he was swarmed by family and friends in the ballroom of the San José Palacio Hotel in San José.
Though the two screens hanging to the sides of the ballroom stage displayed footage of Laura Chinchilla’s victory celebration, the hundreds of red-clad party faithful continued to chant “Otto! Otto! Otto!” as he took the stage.
Surrounded by family members, Guevara thanked the crowd and then commenced his concession speech by stressing the progress made by the party in the elections, despite the losing effort.
“I am so proud to see the strength and the growth of the Libertarian Movement Party,” Guevara said. “We are continuing to grow, and we are continuing to establish a presence in the country. Several years ago, this party wasn’t even considered a possibility for the presidency, and now we’ve won over 25 percent of the vote.”
Though Guevara overstated the percentage of votes that went to the ML (the final tally was around 21 percent), the ML has in fact shown impressive growth since it was founded in 1994. Guevara, who has been the party’s presidential nominee in the past three elections, has seen the popular vote for the ML jump from 1.7 percent, to 8.5 percent, to the 21 percent achieved on Sunday.
“We are making progress, and we will continue to make progress,” Guevara said. “We campaigned for change and it is coming. We can’t expect it to come immediately, but it is obvious that it is coming. Though we did not win the presidency, we did win more support for the ML.”
The biggest gains for the party were seen in the Legislative Assembly, where the number of ML legislators increased from five to 10. That alone is a victory for the party that is only 16 years young.
As for the future of the ML, Guevara said the party would continue to work towards creating a more secure and safe country, which was the ML’s primary issue during the campaign. Guevara said the party also would continue to push for a more free and open market accessible to trading partners around the world. In his concession speech, Guevara also mentioned that he believes a restructuring of the income tax system is essential for the country.
In the upcoming weeks, the billboards featuring Guevara and the ML’s “Cambio, Ya!” (Change, Now!) slogan will be taken down.
Though his face will disappear from the public eye for the time being, Guevara hinted that in four years, Costa Rican voters may again see him wearing his familiar red shirt.
“I am proud to be the representative for this party and for you all,” he said on Sunday. “I hope to continue to be the leader of this movement as we continue to grow and change this nation.”