Carlos Alvarado Quesada became the youngest modern President of Costa Rica when he beat the National Restoration’s candidate conservative evangelical pastor Fabricio Alvarado Munoz for the presidency.
Prior to the elections, surveys showed both candidates on a neck- and- neck race. However, with 95% of the ballots accounted for, Alvarado Quesada was firmly ahead with 60.8% of the votes versus 39.2% for Alvarado Munoz.
It was an unexpected victory; more so that Alvarado Quesada, a centre- left former cabinet minister, novelist and progressive rock singer, won by a wide 20 point margin.
A poll on gay marriage before the elections showed that 7 out of 10 Costa Ricans opposed it. Alvarado Munoz built his political career campaigning versus gay marriage and ran a platform which upheld Catholic values.
In contrast, Alvarado Quesada pledged to support gay marriage and vowed to uphold the decision of the inter- American Court of Human Rights that all of its signatories – including Costa Rica should guarantee equal rights to marriage for same sex couples.
Apparently, the surveys did not reflect the overwhelming sentiment of Costa Ricans about gay marriage and rights for same- sex couples. This observation was articulated by Alvarado Quesada in his victory speech:
“Costa Rica once again delivered a beautiful democratic message. My commitment is to a government for everybody, in equality and liberty. There is much more that unites us than divides us.”
Alvarado Quesada joins Emmanuel Macron of France and Jacinda Arden of New Zealand as the youngest national leaders who were elected before the age of 40.
Alvarado Munoz on his part called the decision of the inter-American Court of Human Rights a “violation of traditionally Catholic Costa Rica’s sovereignty and values.” He vowed to pull Costa Rica out of the court as well as the Organization of American States if he became President. Among the countries in the region, only Uruguay, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina have recognized and approved same- sex marriage.
For Alvarado Quesada, he believed Alvarado Munoz’s campaign message was a reflection of most Western democracies that are dealing with fundamentalist ideologies:
“I think it’s a reflection of what’s happening in the region and the world, including Brexit in Britain. People are experimenting across the world with movements that push a single- issue or populist agendas.