Costa Rica election: Conservative Christian Fabricio Alvarado leads first round vote | News | DW | 05.02.2018
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Costa Rica election: Conservative Christian Fabricio Alvarado leads first round vote

Initial results have put evangelical politician Fabricio Alvarado in the lead in the first round of Costa Rica's presidential vote. The election was dominated by a debate on gay marriage in the Central American country.

Costa Ricans voted in the first round of the country's presidential election on Sunday, which saw 13 candidates vying to succeed outgoing President Luis Guillermo Solis.

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Conservative Christian politician and TV anchor Fabricio Alvarado (pictured above) took the most votes, snagging 25.2 percent, the country's Supreme Electoral Tribunal said, citing initial results.

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Carlos Alvarado (no relation) of the ruling left-leaning Citizens' Action Party came in second place with 21 percent.

He was followed closely by Antonio Alvarez Desanti, a banana entrepreneur and candidate for the National Liberation Party who took 18.9 percent. Rodolfo Piza of the Christian Social Unity was fourth with 16 percent.

Fabricio Alvarado and Carlos Alvarado will now face off in a runoff vote on April 1, as no candidate won 40 percent of the vote. Official results will be announced on Monday.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis (Getty Images/AFP/R. Arangua)

Current President Luis Guillermo Solis asked voters to "elect a government better than mine, a president better than me"

Gay marriage debate

Fabricio Alvarado launched to the top of the pack in opinion polls ahead of the vote after denouncing a ruling in January by the region's top human rights court.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is located in Costa Rica's capital, San Jose, urged Costa Rica to give equal civil marriage rights to lesbian and gay couples.

Fabricio Alvarado called the court's ruling an infringement on Costa Rica's sovereignty and a violation of its traditional values. He also said he would consider pulling the country out of the court.

His opponent in April's runoff, Carlos Alvarado, was the only major candidate to openly support gay marriage, picking up support from socially liberal voters.

Costa Rica presidential candidate Carlos Alvarado (picture-alliance/AA/A. Robert)

Left-leaning candidate Carlos Alvarado came out in support of gay marriage, winning over some socially liberal voters

The 3.3 million voters in Costa Rica are predominantly Roman Catholic, with many describing themselves as conservative.

The shift toward issue-based politics and the rise of political outsiders has come as a surprise for some in Costa Rica, which is known for traditionally centrist politics.

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay already legally recognize such civil unions between gay couples. However, Costa Rica and other Central American countries have resisted the move.

rs/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters) 

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