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Setback for Solís: Opposition parties gain control of Costa Rica’s legislative directorate

May 1, 2015

Lawmakers from the ruling Citizen Action Party (PAC) and administration officials will have to step up their negotiating skills over the next year if they hope to pass their legislative agenda.

Social Christian Unity Party lawmaker Rafael Ortiz Fábrega on Friday was elected president of the Legislative Assembly’s Directorate for the period running from May 1 to April 30 of next year. And PAC secured only one of six seats on the directorate.

Ortiz now leads the directorate thanks to negotiations between six opposition parties that earlier this week formed a bloc to help secure the main seats in the Assembly’s governing body. However, none of the parties was able to elect enough lawmakers to win voting in the Assembly without help from other parties.

The new legislative president was elected with the votes of 35 of 57 lawmakers. Ortiz received 18 votes from the National Liberation Party, eight from his own party, two from the Libertarian Movement Party, and one from each of the three Christian parties – Costa Rican Renovation, National Restoration and the Christian Democratic Alliance.

As established by legislative procedure, three annulled votes and a blank ballot were tallied in favor of the candidate with the most votes, Ortiz.

Ortiz defeated former Assembly president and PAC candidate Henry Mora Jiménez, the Broad Front Party’s Francisco Camacho Leiva and the Accessibility Without Exclusion Party’s Óscar López Arias.

The only surprise of the day was the election to the directorate of Marlene Madrigal Flores, a PAC legislator nominated by the opposition bloc. She defeated fellow PAC lawmaker Laura Garro Sánchez.

The opposition bloc exceeded 35 votes for all of the posts on the directorate. That number is not enough to pass bills in full Assembly sessions, meaning the group will have to negotiate votes from other parties in order to move bills forward. A minimum of 38 votes is needed to pass a bill or approve legislative procedures.

Ahead of the voting, President Luis Guillermo Solís said earlier Friday that he was “tormented” by the thought that “those responsible for the deficit we have today … will refuse to help this administration and Costa Rica.”

The election ended at about 2:30 p.m. with a swearing-in ceremony for members of the new directorate, as follows:

President: Rafael Ortiz Fábrega (Social Christian Unity Party)

Vice President: Luis Vázquez Castro (Social Christian Unity Party)

First Secretary: Juan Marín Quirós (National Liberation Party)

Second Secretary: Karla Prendas Matarrita (National Liberation Party)

First secretary pro tem: Marlene Flores Madrigal (Citizen Action Party)

Second secretary pro tem: Natalia Díaz Quintana (Libertarian Movement Party)

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