COSTA RICA, SAN JOSE – The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) for the National Elections of Costa Rica, led by the former vice president of Panama Isabel de Saint Malo, congratulates the Costa Rican people after the successful election day on Sunday, February 6.
The Mission was able to observe that Costa Rica has a solid electoral system that inspires confidence in the different actors in the process and recognizes the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and all the people who performed functions in the different stages for their work within the country´s institutions and their professionalism.
The Mission was made up of 18 members of nine nationalities. On the day of the elections, they visited polling stations in the provinces of San José and Heredia and observed the day from the opening of the polling stations to the counting and transmission of results.
The Mission observed a day that passed in an atmosphere of calm and civility and welcomes the fact that citizens came out to vote with joy and patriotism, despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this vein, the Mission recognizes the widespread implementation of health protocols to prevent the spread of the virus and highlights the work carried out by voters and officials to ensure compliance.
However, the enthusiasm that was experienced in the streets of San José was not reflected in the national participation rate. The Mission regrets that the rate of abstentionism has grown in this election to 40.29 percent, which confirms the trend that has been taking place in the last two presidential elections. In this sense, the Mission invites the TSE to lead a multisectoral effort to promote democratic participation and welcomes the initiative of children’s elections implemented by the Court in these elections, a good practice in learning and building citizenship.
Likewise, after listening to various actors with whom the Mission met, it highlights the need to reform the current financing system in the country and establish modalities of direct and indirect public financing. Costa Rica would benefit from a major national dialogue in which the country’s different actors and institutions can reach agreements on this matter.
The preliminary report that is being presented today contains a comprehensive analysis of the different stages of the process, as well as a series of recommendations that the Mission deems pertinent to implement for the second round, to be held on April 3, after it became known that no presidential ticket exceeded the 40 percent vote required by the Constitution to win in the first round.
The Mission celebrates the democratic maturity with which the candidates spoke on the night of the election and calls on citizens to see this new vote as an opportunity, and to participate enthusiastically in the second round.
The Mission will return to Costa Rica to observe the second round and will present, on that occasion, a detailed report of what was analyzed by the specialists.
The Mission appreciates the openness of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the government of Costa Rica and the different people with whom it met during its stay in the country and who facilitated the collection of the information necessary to carry out its work. In addition, the Mission thanks the governments of Korea, France, Italy, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Spain and the United States for the financial contributions that made this deployment possible.