Hours after one poll placed Broad Front Party candidate José María Villalta in the lead in Costa Rica’s presidential race, challengers went on the offensive, saying the upstart candidate would reshape the country along the lines of the most notorious socialist governments in the region.
The poll, released by the daily La Nación on Sunday, showed the Broad Front Party nominee ahead of National Liberation Party (PLN) candidate Johnny Araya – the first poll to have the ruling party’s candidate in second place.
Araya spoke to La Nación later that day, saying that he offered a more moderate ideology than Villalta.
“He has recognized part of the discontent that exists. We are going to work hard with that discontent because there’s no doubt that the Villalta option does not suit Costa Rica,” Araya told La Nación. “It’s a dangerous proposal for our democratic system. They have not hidden their ideological inclinations, nor their sympathy for the Venezuelan regime.”
La Nación also spoke with Libertarian Movement Party candidate Otto Guevara, who compared Villalta’s policies to those of Hugo Chávez’s former government in Venezuela, the Sandinista government in Nicaragua and Cristina Kirchner government of Argentina. Guevara, who also saw his poll numbers rise, tying for second with Araya, indicated his campaign would shift to focus on Villalta.
“That page of polarization between Otto and Johnny has turned, and now comes a new transitional step,” Guevara told La Nación.
Villalta took to social media to urge his followers that the new poll was only the beginning of a long fight.
“Do not demonize the polls, nor blindly believe in them,” Villalta wrote on his Facebook page.
“The most important thing about the UNIMER poll is that it begins to reflect what we are seeing in the street, which we perceive every time we visit the community.”
While La Nación’s poll has stirred the election, a more recent survey by CID Gallup for the business newspaper La República still had Araya as the strong frontrunner. Gallup reported 45 percent respondents supporting Araya, with 21 percent supporting Villalta. Guevara earned 15 percent support. Gallup polled from Nov. 23 to 27.
La Nación polled from Nov. 8 to 20, reporting Villalta with approximately 19.5 percent support and Araya and Guevara at 16.5 percent support. La Nación’s numbers included those who had no preference or who were undecided, which totaled 35.5 percent.
Full results below.