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Pro-gay marriage candidate wins huge victory to become Costa Rican President

Josh Jackman April 2, 2018
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Presidential candidate of the ruling Citizens' Action Party (PAC), Carlos Alvarado, picks up his son Gabriel, during a campaign rally in San Jose, Costa Rica, on March 24, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Ezequiel BECERRA (Photo credit should read EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)

(Getty)

Centre-left candidate Carlos Alvarado Quesada has been elected as President of Costa Rica, heavily defeating an anti-gay pastor who based his campaign on opposing same-sex marriage.

Fringe evangelical Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz, 43, received a surge in support after running on an aggressively anti-same-sex marriage platform, and went into the final run-off as the marginal favourite.

In contrast, Quesada, 38, has been outspoken in his support of gay rights and a pan-American human rights treaty that requires the country to provide legal recognition to same-sex couples.

Supporters of the presidential candidate of Costa Rica's governing Citizen Action Party (PAC), Carlos Alvarado, celebrate in San Jose on April 01, 2018.  Carlos Alvarado, the candidate for Costa Rica's center-left ruling party, is to become his country's next president after an election run-off Sunday against an evangelical preacher, according a near-complete vote count by electoral authorities. Alvarado, a 38-year-old former labor minister, won 60.66 percent of the ballots, against 39.33 percent for his ultra-conservative rival, Fabricio Alvarado (no relation), the Supreme Electoral Tribunal said, based on returns from more than 90 percent of polling stations.  / AFP PHOTO / Ezequiel BECERRA        (Photo credit should read EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

And he defied the polls – most of which showed Muñoz level or ahead – to secure a commanding victory.

With 95 percent of the votes counted late last night, Quesada was leading by 60.8 percent to 39.2.

Speaking to thousands of cheering fans, the new President-elect said: “My commitment is to a government for everybody, in equality and liberty for a more prosperous future.

Presidential candidate of Costa Rica's governing Citizen Action Party (PAC), Carlos Alvarado, celebrates victory  in San Jose on April 01, 2018. Carlos Alvarado, the candidate for Costa Rica's center-left ruling party, is to become his country's next president after an election run-off Sunday against an evangelical preacher, according a near-complete vote count by electoral authorities. Alvarado, a 38-year-old former labor minister, won 60.66 percent of the ballots, against 39.33 percent for his ultra-conservative rival, Fabricio Alvarado (no relation), the Supreme Electoral Tribunal said, based on returns from more than 90 percent of polling stations.  / AFP PHOTO / Ezequiel BECERRA        (Photo credit should read EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

“There is much more that unites us than divides us.”

On Twitter, he wrote: “This campaign demonstrated the power of love. That is the strength that should unite us”.

He added: “I will lead a government for all and all. That shelters all people, without any distinction.”

Supporters of presidential candidate of Costa Rica's governing Citizen Action Party (PAC), Carlos Alvarado, celebrate in San Jose on April 01, 2018.  Carlos Alvarado, the candidate for Costa Rica's center-left ruling party, is to become his country's next president after an election run-off Sunday against an evangelical preacher, according a near-complete vote count by electoral authorities. Alvarado, a 38-year-old former labor minister, won 60.66 percent of the ballots, against 39.33 percent for his ultra-conservative rival, Fabricio Alvarado (no relation), the Supreme Electoral Tribunal said, based on returns from more than 90 percent of polling stations.  / AFP PHOTO / Ezequiel BECERRA        (Photo credit should read EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Quesada, who leads the ruling Citizens’ Action Party, will become President in May, taking over from President Luis Guillermo Solis, who submitted the marriage equality petition that led to the current furore over same-sex marriage.

Muñoz conceded the race, reportedly falling to his knees, arms raised in front of his fans, some of whom were crying.

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

Costa Rican presidential candidate Fabricio Alvarado of the National Restoration Party (PRN) prays on stage before supporters following defeat in Costa Rica's run-off election on April 1, 2018 in San Jose.  Carlos Alvarado, the candidate for Costa Rica's center-left ruling party, is to become his country's next president after an election run-off Sunday against an evangelical preacher, according a near-complete vote count by electoral authorities.   / AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO ARANGUA        (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
Costa Rican presidential candidate Fabricio Alvarado prays on stage after defeat (Getty)

The battle over LGBT rights came to the fore after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that Costa Rica and 15 other countries were violating human rights protections by preventing same-sex couples from marrying.

The court found Costa Rica is in violation of its treaty obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR) by not providing marriage equality.

Following Muñoz’s strong performance in the first round, he declared the results a victory for the “traditional family”.

Costa Rican presidential candidate Carlos Alvarado, of the ruling Citizen Action Party (PAC), smiles after casting his vote at a polling station in San Jose on April 1, 2018 during the country's run-off election. Polling stations across Costa Rica opened early Sunday for a presidential election that has split the country between an ultra-conservative evangelical preacher who slams gay rights and a former minister from the center-left ruling party. / AFP PHOTO / Ezequiel BECERRA        (Photo credit should read EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

The candidate said: “We propose the sovereignty of the family as the fundamental basis of society.”

“Costa Rica has sent a message to traditional parties – never again will they meddle with the family.”

Meanwhile, Quesada had stood firm over his commitment to human rights laws.

Costa Rican presidential candidate for the Citizen Action Party (PAC), Carlos Alvarado plays the guitar during a Facebook Live broadcast in San Jose, Costa Rica, on March 29, 2018.  Costa Rica faces a presidential runoff between Fabricio Alvarado, a 43-year-old lawmaker, pastor and singer with the National Restoration Party, and Carlos Alvarado, a former minister from the leftist ruling party. Despite the shared last name, the two men are unrelated. / AFP PHOTO / Ezequiel BECERRA        (Photo credit should read EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images)
(Getty)

He said: “The Costa Rica of the 21st century requires a government that knows how to move forward with vigor, love, happiness (and) the agenda of equality.”

While there has been much pan-American solidarity around the court ruling, the US has notably shied away from pressing Costa Rica over the issue, and has refused to take part in a statement welcoming the ruling.

The US was the only member of the Organisation of American States (OAS) LGBTI Core Group that refused to sign on to a statement supporting the court’s opinion.

Related topics: Americas, Costa Rica, costa rica, election, Politics, same sex marriage

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