War of surveys, exclusion of religious institutions and financial impact
26 enero 2018

Costa Rican politics is going through a period of strong unpredictability, as a result of the elections that will be held on February 4th and the fiscal crisis it is going through. Crisis that the government of President Luis Guillermo Solís still can not resolve, not being able to get the bill to strengthen the Public finances passed. The polls released recently, the request the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (Tribunal Supremo Electoral – TSE) made to the Churches and the fall in the price of debt bonds contribute to the worsening of the situation, days before the election.

Pre-election studies

At the beginning of January, the scenario was that Juan Diego Castro (National Integration Party – PIN) leaded the electoral race with 18% of vote intention. However, the campaign discussion on equal marriage could be giving a twist to the expected results. A new report from the University of Costa Rica Center for Research and Political Studies (Centro de Investigación y Estudios Políticos de la Universidad de Costa Rica – CIEP) places the deputy Fabricio Alvarado, from the National Restoration Party (Restauración Nacional – RN) as the best positioned candidate (17 points).

Although these numbers relegate Juan Diego Castro, from the National Integration Party (Partido Integración Nacional – PIN) and Antonio Álvarez Desanti, member of the National Liberation Party (Partido de Liberación Nacional – PLN) to the second and third place, with 16% and 11% of vote intention respectively, this is the only study that endorses this possibility. It should be noted that more than a thousand interviews were conducted between the 15th and 17th of this month, highlighting the disapproval of the marital bond between people of the same sex as a strength for Alvarado -that made him even more popular.

On the other hand, the consultancy CID Gallup surveyed voters a few days before the educational institution did and obtained a trend in favor of Castro – although Alvarado also grew to reach 10 points. Demoscopia (on a date similar to the CIEP) predicted a victory for Alvarez and did not even contemplate Fabricio Alvarado as a contender in a second round vote to be held on April 1st.

End to religious proselytism

In terms of political support, the highest national electoral authority asked the members of the churches not to pronounce themselves in favor of any of the parties – either through manifestos that represent a direct or implicit call to a candidate’s vote. The intention of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Costa Rica is to leave the symbols and religious reasons out of the decision the citizenship will make in the coming days.

Those directly affected by this measure are the Episcopal Conference and the Costa Rican Evangelical Alliance Federation, under the judicial appeal presented by an anonymous person. This judicial appeal arose as a result of a text in which both organizations made reference to couples of the same gender, ideology and abortion -convening not to forget the Christian convictions, strongly rooted in the Central American nation, while casting a vote.

State bonus

Finally, the changes in the forecasts for February 4th, had their repercussions in the financial sector. The debt obligations, issued in US currency and with a term to the year 2023, suffered a 0.14% increase on the interest on its performance and had the most important decline in its value in the last eight months. This means that investors who are willing to buy the bonds not only intend to pay less for them, but also to obtain higher profits once they reach maturity – due to the high risk involved in contributing funds to the government.

The possibility that the tax agreement is not reached, even modifying the tax policy and allowing the tax office to increase its level of recollection, is a current concern among analysts – due to the impossibility to solve local problems this would represent. Both the ruling party and the candidates for the presidency do not have clear plans to put these changes into practice, a situation that would have a serious impact on the conditions under which the country finances its debt.

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