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Rodrigo Chavez elected president of Costa Rica

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SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA - APRIL 03: Costa Rica's President-elect Rodrigo Chavez delivers a speech on stage as he celebrates with supporters after winning the presidential election in San Jose, Costa Rica on April 03, 2022. (Roberto Carlos Sanchez - Anadolu Agency)
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Apr 04, 2022 - 06:10 AM

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – Costa Ricans chose their next president Sunday after a polarized election marked by high abstentionism.

With 96% of the votes tallied, economist Rodrigo Chavez won the second round of the presidential election with 52.9% of the vote to 47.1% for former president and rival candidate Jose Maria Figueres.

Chavez was minister of finance in the Central American nation for six months between 2019 and 2020 after holding several positions at the World Bank.

Former president Figueres conceded defeat shortly after the electoral tribunal announced the results.

“I congratulate Rodrigo Chavez and wish him the best,” he said. “Costa Rica has voted and the people have spoken. We, as the democrats that we are, will always be respectful of that decision.”

Figueres also promised to help “rescue” the country.

“In the face of this crisis and this emergency, it is time to leave behind a message of antagonism, hatred, division and move forward together, putting aside differences,” he said.

The campaign between the two candidates had become aggressive in recent days. While Figueres is alleged to have committed corruption during his time as president, in 2019, Chavez received an internal sanction after being accused of sexual harassment by several female colleagues at the World Bank.

Although 3.5 million people were eligible to vote, the first round and second round elections were characterized by low voter turnout. According to the Electoral Tribunal, there was an abstention rate of 42.85%, even higher than that of the first round.

Chavez takes the reins of a country lashed by unemployment rates, a lack of opportunities and increasing crime after the coronavirus pandemic hit. ​​​​​​​

Unemployment sat around 14.4% in 2021 and about 23% of the Costa Rican population lives in poverty.

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