Pro-gay marriage candidate Carlos Alvarado wins Costa Rican presidency in surprise landslide

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 April, 2018, 12:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 April, 2018, 9:00pm

Costa Ricans have elected a president from the ruling party in a landslide, confounding polls which had predicted a win for an evangelical singer and preacher who’d campaigned on his opposition to gay marriage.

Carlos Alvarado, a novelist and former rock 'n' roll singer will take office on May 8, after winning 61 per cent of the vote, with 91 per cent of polling stations reporting.

Fabricio Alvarado, 43, shot into the lead in a first round vote in February after he opposed a ruling by an international court that supported same-sex marriage in the country.

Carlos Alvarado, a 38-year-old pro-gay marriage former labour minister, backed the international court ruling and promised to get religion out of government.

While they are not close relations, a genealogist traced both their families back to the same Costa Rican woman in the 18th century.

Both have pledged to slash the country’s record fiscal deficit and introduce “fiscal rules” that limit borrowing. The Central Bank forecasts that in the absence of tax and spending reforms, the deficit will reach 7.1 per cent of gross domestic product this year and 7.9 per cent in 2019.

The country has received four downgrades over the last five years from the main ratings agencies. Costa Rica’s dollar bonds have returned 1.2 per cent this year, the only sovereign in its rating bucket to produce positive returns, amid optimism the fiscal situation will be addressed.

In a speech to supporters, Fabricio Alvarado conceded defeat but said he had managed to raise the banner of “principles and values.”

“We are not sad, because we made history, because our message touched the country’s deepest nerves,” he said.