SAN JOSE – Costa Rican lawmaker Antonio Alvarez Desanti is maintaining on Monday his advantage of almost 6 percentage points over former President Jose Maria Figueres in the primary election for the opposition National Liberation Party (PLN), after a controversial election day on the weekend in which there were suggestions of voter fraud.
With 24.1 percent of the votes counted, Alvarez has garnered 45.4 percent of the ballots and Figueres 39.5 percent, while the other two PLN candidates – Rolando Gonzalez and Sigifredo Aiza, who both during Sunday’s balloting acknowledged defeat – have 8.2 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively.
The PLN’s Internal Tribunal at about midnight on Sunday suspended the vote count and was planning to resume it at 8 am on Monday, sparking the anger of 58-year-old Alvarez Desanti, who insinuated that this might allow fraud against him.
On Monday morning, the Internal Tribunal – aiming to dispel any doubts regarding the legitimacy of the vote count – took a step back, continued counting the votes and allowed the entry of officials from different political persuasions to follow the process firsthand.
Early Monday morning, Alvarez and Figueres both held press conferences at which they reaffirmed their confidence in the Internal Tribunal and said that they will await the official results before making statements regarding victory or defeat.
“We must remain calm. We have to give it a few hours ... What was expressed is an issue of the tribunal’s inefficiency,” Alvarez said.
He expressed confidence that he will win the primary, but did not back off of his suggestion that fraud might be committed, saying regarding the vote count resumption that “if one doesn’t come across strongly, the answers don’t come quickly.”
Meanwhile, Figueres, the 62-year-old son of historical PLN strongman and former President Jose Figueres Ferrer, called on Monday the primaries “an extraordinary task,” adding that he hailed the Tribunal for continuing with the vote count and noting that “things have calmed down.”
“We understand that it’s more difficult to get the figures from precincts quite far from San Jose. So, we need to wait a few hours more to see” what the Tribunal says, said Figueres, who served as president from 1994-1998.
The next announcement of results by the Internal Tribunal was set for 11 am.
The country’s presidential elections will be held on Feb. 4, 2018.