In an unanimous vote on Tuesday evening, 40 Costa Rican lawmakers approved a bill to reduce by ₡18 billion ($36 million) the state’s contribution to political parties for the upcoming presidential elections in 2014.
The first-round vote came after almost three hours of discussion where some lawmakers broke quorum several times in an attempt to prevent the voting.
The new bill would temporarily amend Article 96 of the Constitution, which requires the state to provide a financial contribution of 0.19 percent of gross domestic product – ₡43 billion ($86 million) – to fund election campaigns.
If passed in a second round of voting, the state’s contribution would become 0.11 percent of GDP, or ₡25 billion ($50 million).
The bill was proposed two years ago by Citizen Action Party lawmaker Jeannette Ruiz and will allow the government to comply with a request earlier this month by the Finance Ministry to reduce the 2014 National Budget.
Finance Minister Edgar Ayales warned at the time that the government did not have sufficient funds to meet the constitutional obligation of providing 0.19 percent of GDP to political parties, and the executive branch only assigned 0.11 percent in next year’s national budget.
The bill goes to a second round of voting on Thursday and then must be published in the official newspaper La Gaceta, likely next week.