A new poll published today by Costa Rica’s daily La Nación shows that Libertarian presidential candidate Otto Guevara has 30% of support among likely voters, trailing the candidate of the incumbent social democrat party Laura Chinchilla, who has 43% support. The news here is that in just two months, Guevara has increased his share of the vote by 18 percentage points, while Chinchilla’s share has collapsed by 20 percentage points during the same period.
The elections are scheduled for February 7th, and if neither of the candidates reaches the 40% threshold, there would be a runoff on April 4th. Given the trend, it is very likely that Guevara might force a runoff with Chinchilla in April. However, if Chinchilla’s rapid decline continues and Guevara captures more independent and undecided voters, he could still pull a surprising victory in February.
Guevara is a capital “L” Libertarian. His main issue during the campaign has been to get tough on crime (Costa Ricans’ main concern, according to polls). His economic platform is consistently free market: he proposes to abandon the colón and adopt the U.S. dollar as the official currency, he wants to unilaterally liberalize trade, he is calling for the implementation of a flat tax, and promotes an aggressive deregulation agenda. Moreover, he wants to introduce more competition in health care (currently a government single payer system) and education. On the international front, he has said that he would use international pulpits such as the UN and the Organization of American States to criticize Washington’s War on Drugs and propose sensible alternatives to international drug policy.
It’s still too early to call this election. Two months is also an eternity in Costa Rican politics. But things are certainly getting interesting in my home country.