One third of Costa Rican voters remain undecided just six weeks before the presidential election. According to a poll published Wednesday, the two leading candidates are in a statistical dead heat.
The Investigation and Political Studies Center at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) revealed that 34 percent of the sample has yet to choose a candidate. Former Security Minister Juan Diego Castro is the current favorite with 18 percent; Castro is known for his populist discourse and promises to erradicate corruption and crime.
Former legislator and Cabinet minister Antonio Álvarez of the National Liberation Party (PLN) is within the 2.5-point margin of error with 14 percent. The poll was carried out from Dec. 4-13 with 1,578 telephone interviews.
If none of the candidates get at least 40 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will face off in a runoff election in April.
“We’re still growing. We’re Costa Rica’s primary political force,” Castro wrote on his Twitter account. The party that nominated him, the National Integration Party (PIN), is a small movement that in the past has put only one legislator in office.
In third place in the poll, with 13 percent, is the lawyer Rodolfo Piza from the Social Christianity Unity Party (PUSC), which along with the PLN led Costa Rica’s bipartisan system during the latter part of the 20th century. The other 10 aspirants are polling under 10 percent.
The poll also reflects a strong drop in support for President Luis Guillermo Solís. His administration is viewed negatively by 47 percent of those polled and positively by only 27 percent. In contrast, UCR polls carried out between March and October showed a positive evaluation of the current government.
Solís’ image has been affected in recent months by a scandal related to loans from public banks for the importation of Chinese cement, a case that revealed traffic of influences in the three powers of the Estate and has affected almost all of the country’s political parties.