Backgrounder: Key facts about Costa Rica's general elections

14:49, February 07, 2010      

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Costa Rica is scheduled to hold general elections on Sunday. The following are some key facts about the elections:

All Costa Rican citizens over 18 years of age are eligible to vote. Some 2.8 million out of a population of 4.5 million people have registered for Sunday's elections.

Voters will choose a new president who will serve a four-year term, two vice presidents, 57 parliamentarians and 495 local deputies.

Voting opens at 6:00 a.m. local time (1200 GMT) at 6,600 polling stations across the country, and ends at 6:00 p.m. (2400 GMT) on Sunday. Results are expected from 8:00 p.m. (0200 GMT) on Sunday.

According to the country's constitution, a candidate is required to gain at least 40 percent of the popular vote to win outright, or the top two candidates will compete in a runoff slated for April 4.

There are nine candidates vying for the presidency.

Latest opinion polls showed that front-runners include Laura Chinchilla from the National Liberation Party (PLN), Otto Guevara Guth of the Libertarian Movement Party (ML) and Otton Solis of the Citizen Action Party (PAC).

Chinchilla, who served as vice president under incumbent President Oscar Arias, has the opportunity to become the country's first female president as pre-election opinion polls gave her a nearly 20-percentage-point-lead over her closest rivals.

Some 12,200 police troops have been deployed across the country for the security of the elections.

About 200 international observers from 17 countries and the Organization of American States will be on hand to monitor the elections in all of the country's seven provinces.

Source: Xinhua
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