At the final count, Solís received 30.95 percent, followed closely by PLN candidate Johnny Araya, with 29.59 percent. Villalta, long favored to enter a runoff election with Araya, won only 17.4 percent, ahead of the Libertarian Movement Party’s Otto Guevara with 11.19 percent.

“The emergence of Solís, who doesn’t come from a strong party background, is a further indication of the erosion of traditional political parties in the region,” said Eric Olsen, associate director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Latin American Program.

“That said, (Costa Ricans) are looking for a government that worries about the middle class, poor people, the inequality issues, education, access to health care – a pretty strong left of center agenda. Costa Rica clearly was not looking for a complete redirection, but one that looks like it included a strong alternative to what Liberación Nacional has been offering for the last several decades,” he told The Tico Times.

But the desire for changed stopped short of a candidate perceived by voters as more extreme, such as Villalta.


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