In a context of political dealignment and a fluid multiparty system, corruption scandals and a divisive international court ruling on sexual and reproductive rights have drastically altered the electoral landscape, write Evelyn Villarreal Fernández (State of the Nation Programme) and Bruce M. Wilson (University of Central Florida).
Published on LSE Blogs, 1 February 2018.
This Sunday, 4 February 2018, will mark the 17th time since the end of the 1948 civil war that Costa Ricans will go to the polls to simultaneously elect all 57 members of the Legislative Assembly, the president, and two vice presidents.
Costa Rican democracy is one of the oldest, best-performing democracies in the Americas, but the upcoming election is marked by general disinterest, voter volatility, and two late-breaking events that have displaced traditional campaign issues. These two events, a corruption scandal and an international court ruling, have combined with a process of political dealignment and the consolidation of a fluid multiparty system to significantly alter the electoral landscape.
Decades of dealignment and multipartism
Historically, Costa Rican politics was dominated by two major parties that routinely garnered more than 94% of the national vote. Since 1994, however, no party has won majority control of the 57-member legislative assembly, and parties find it increasingly difficult to garner the 40% national vote share necessary to capture the presidency.