Candidates for 2014 Costa Rican Presidential Election Emerge

May 21, 2010

Barely a week of Laura Chinchilla’s presidency had passed when a handful of eager politicians announced their aspirations for her job in 2014.

Rodrigo Arias, former president Oscar Arias’ brother and presidency minister, told Costa Rica’s tabloid Diario Extra in an interview published Tuesday, May 11, “Yes, I will be a candidate in the primary election (of the National Liberation Party (PLN)). That is the decision I made.”

Former legislator and minister Antonio Álvarez, also of the PLN, said he too had interest in following Chinchilla in the presidency. And, throwing one more name into the candidate pool, Luis Hernández, a former candidate in a Citizen Action Party presidential primary election, also said he would run.

Responding to the announcements during a press conference that same day, Chinchilla acknowledged that democracy is very dynamic and that someone is always aspiring to an elected position.

“This isn’t bad,” she said. “It’s a good signal for democracy.”

But she asked that presidential aspirants give her time to advance in keeping her commitments to Costa Rica.

Chinchilla’s former opponent and three-time presidential Libertarian Movement candidate, Otto Guevara, criticized what he said were “premature announcements.”

“The thing that Costa Rica needs least right now are primary presidential candidates,” he said. “In these moments, and as a matter of principle and respect for our president, it’s necessary that the different Costa Rican political actors put the common interest of the country ahead of partisan interests.”

Arias’ name had been floated as a potential successor to Chinchilla for months, but up until his interview with Diario Extra, he had refused make his political aspirations public. He said he wanted to finish his duties in his brother’s administration before looking for another job.

At the prodding of journalists, he finally mentioned his interest this week, but quickly followed it by saying he wasn’t ready to make his candidacy official.

“I am not going to make an official announcement this year, probably not until the second part of 2011. My intention is to help Laura Chinchilla,” he said.

For her part, Chinchilla said she was sure the news from Arias was little more than an “open and frank discussion about his aspirations” and not a formal announcement.

–Chrissie Long

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