Costa Rican opposition candidate Luis Guillermo Solis is set to win a presidential runoff today after the ruling party’s candidate suspended his campaign, citing “a demand for a shift in power” among voters.
Solis, 55, has vowed not to raise or impose new taxes to narrow a widening budget deficit before 2016, saying he will improve tax collection and cut superfluous spending instead. He also made cracking down on corruption and re-activating the domestic market to boost growth in the $45 billion economy central issues in his campaign.
Ruling party candidate Johnny Araya ended his campaign last month after a poll showed him trailing Solis by 43 percentage points. He was the first runoff candidate to withdraw from a campaign since 1932, newspaper La Nacion said. Under Costa Rican law, his name still appears on the ballot.
Solis supporters rallied in downtown San Jose after polls closed at 6 p.m. local (8 p.m. EST). About 3 million people were eligible to vote and early results are expected at 8:30 p.m. local, the electoral tribunal said.
The winner today will succeed President Laura Chinchilla, whose government struggled after a series of corruption allegations against her aides, historically high unemployment and a failure to pass a fiscal package to restrain the budget deficit.
Costa’s Rica’s economy expanded 3.1 percent last year, more than the 2.4 percent average for 10 Latin American nations tracked by Bloomberg. The Finance Ministry said the nation’s budget deficit will widen to 6 percent of gross domestic product this year from 5.4 percent in 2013.