Costa Rica’s governing party has won the country’s presidential election after many voters rejected a candidate who had jumped into political prominence by campaigning against same-sex marriage.
The head of the Supreme Electoral Council, Luis Antonio Sobrado, said that with 90.6% of ballots counted Sunday night, Carlos Alvarado of the ruling Citizen Action Party had 60.6% of the votes in the runoff election.
His opponent, evangelical pastor Fabricio Alvarado of the National Restoration party, had 39.4%. The two men are not related.
Fabricio Alvarado rose from being a political unknown to the leading candidate in the election’s first round in February after he came out strongly against a call by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for Costa Rica to allow same-sex marriage.
Carlos Alvarado, a novelist and former labour minister who finished second in February to get the final spot in the runoff, spoke in favour of letting same sex couples wed.
Recent opinion polls had said the candidates were running head-to-head going into the runoff, but in the end Carlos Alvarado had an easy win.
In a speech to supporters, Fabricio Alvarado conceded defeat but said he had managed to raise the banner of “principles and values”.
“We are not sad, because we made history, because our message touched the country’s deepest nerves,” he said.
The two share similarities beyond their family name. Both have backgrounds in journalism and both have recorded music – Fabricio Alvarado as a gospel singer and Carlos Alvardo as a college-age rock ‘n’ roller.
Both candidates also had economic advisers who take a conservative approach to economics, favouring the free market and calling for a reduction in the size of government.
Voter Maria Rodriguez said she supported Carlos Alvarado because she rejected his rival’s homophobic discourse and does not believe the evangelical candidate was qualified to be president.
Rodrigo Lopez said Fabricio Alvarado was his choice because Costa Rica should maintain its traditional values and he is tired of the ruling party’s corruption.