Updated 01:03 AM EST, Sun, Feb 28, 2021

How Costa Rica's Local Elections have Improved

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The municipal elections in Costa Rica were held on Sunday, February 7th. And already, the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of Americans States headed by former Uruguay Deputy Minister Edgardo Ortuno are getting ready for the event.

The agreement between the Chief of Mission and the President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal guarantees access to all information related to the organization and supervision of the electoral's process.

While local elections are important to pick out leaders in the municipality, for Costa Rica, the municipal elections have taken precedence over the refugees, as they have been displaced in the name of the government that has mandated the use of educational buildings, halls, and churches as polling sites. This has effectively displaced the influx of Cuban immigrants that have been stranded in Costa Rica for several weeks now, per Diplomatic Courier

What is the big deal about Costa Rica's local elections, though? The Costa Rica Star News noted that this is the first time that voters will be able to choose all their municipal representatives, a move that was approved by the Electoral Code back in 2009. The said code established that local elections shall occur on the same day at mid-term of the seated president, translating to two years of being in office. It was highlighted that the importance of these elections is part of the process to decentralize and empower local communities. It also serves as a reminder that citizen participation is essential in these so-called processes.

From a country that has seen banned political leaders re-enter in politics, the voter turnout has considerably declined. Telesurf said that polls officially opened with 5,630 sites at 6AM, and citizens were expected to cast their ballots for 81 new representatives and six thousand locally elected officials.

But now that the voting has ended and counting has begun, and although there was a high abstention rate as already expected, Electoral Supreme Tribuna President Luis Antonio Sobrano was optimistic about citizens fulfilling their duty.

All in all, as noted in a separate report, about 3.2 million Costa Ricans registered to vote. In 2014, the general election boasted a massive 770 percent participation rate as opposed to 2010, when a mere 28 percent of voters exercised one of their basic rights.

This year's elections sees the comeback of former mayor Johnny Araya Monge, who attempted to run for president in the previous election. Upon his withdrawal from the race, his party, the National Liberation Party, banned him from participating in political activities in the next eight years. To join this year's race, he opted to join the Alliance for San Jose Party instead.

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