As if Guanacaste’s municipal elections were political novels with various levels of drama and intensity, on Sunday, February 7 the province’s cantons experienced the results at the same pace that they live day-to-day.
In Hojancha everything happened peacefully and assuredly, as happens with the canton’s Municipal Council sessions. Just an hour after the polls were closed, there was no doubt: current Mayor Eduardo Pineda, from PAC, would remain in the municipality for another four years. The final result: 63% in favor and an abstention rate of 36.5%.
Eduardo Pineda, at the center of the table, along with his supporters, waiting for final results. Photo by Roberto Cruz.
In Nicoya and Cañas, something similar happened. The Nicoyan mayor, belonging to the PLN, Marcos Jimenez, will have another four years to finalize those projects that have still eluded him, something that also happens in municipal sessions. The abstention rate in the canton was higher than in Hojancha, at 55%.
Nicoya Mayor Marcos Jimenez reelected for four more years. Photo by Roberto Acuña.
The biggest difference between both Nicoya and Hojancha and the canton of Cañas was the high abstention rate, which was 64% in the latter. But just like its counterparts in Guanacaste’s southern coast, the PLN politician, Luis Fernando Mendoza Jimenez, won without a doubt with 69.1% of the vote.
More Intense than a Midday Soap Opera
But just like a political novel, there have to be culminating moments. In Guanacaste, candidates in Santa Cruz, Liberia and Nandayure suffered through a wild ride.
Santa Cruz took the prize for melodrama, as happens with the majority of the decisions taken by the mayor and the municipal council.
After the first closing of the Supreme Election Tribunal (TSE – Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones), vice mayor and candidate for the PLN in Santa Cruz, Maria Rosa Lopez, was happy to be in charge, although she tried without success to contain her urge to celebrate.
Maria Rosa López, candidata PLN por Santa Cruz foto por Ariana Crespo.
“I want to give thanks to God, with such a tight result, only He could make this miracle,” said Lopez excitedly. But for her, the taste of victory lasted just as long as Miss Colombia’s crown.
In Liberia, the same happened with Julio Viales, the ex-regional director of MOPT, when he finished after the second closing in the lead. But as of 10:30 p.m., the panorama had changed.
“We are receiving numbers, data [and] information to see how this is resolved. It’s a minimal difference. We won the outer districts of Liberia; the central district is where are losing by a lot,” analyzed Viales while watching a TV screen that showed new data every 30 minutes.
That is how the hours of anguish passed. Santa Cruz alternated between PIN, PUSC and PLN by a small number of votes, and at the end of the night, it was still unknown who was the final winner. The elections were like a Twilight or Harry Potter novel.
Santa Cruz residents will have to wait to meet their mayor
In Liberia, the count was close between PLN and PASE, but as of midnight the numbers were in: 24.6% for Luis Gerardo Castañeda Diaz, beating Viales who had 22.8%.
Also, in Nandayure, at 11 p.m. and with just over 100 votes to count, the race was tied between PNG and PLN with less than a 1% difference between the two parties.
Then Giovanni Jimenez Gomez from PNG took the lead and was able to convince Nandayureans to support his vision for the canton, receiving 29.5% of the vote, with a 45% abstention rate.
Trends that Stuck during the Night
In other cantons, the novel was predictable, as when one knows how the book will end. The cantons of Tilaran, Bagaces, La Cruz, Abangares and Carrillo showed a consistent tendency. The abstention rates were also steady for those cantons.
PLN followers in Tilaran waiting for the final results outside their club. Photo by Roy Prendas
In Bagaces the PLN lawyer William Guido Quijano won with 31% and a 61% abstention rate. In Tilaran the PLN candidate, the young Juan Pablo Barquero Sanchez, also won with 30% and a low abstention rate of 43%.
In La Cruz a new mayor was named from PUSC. Junnier Alberto Salazar, an immigration official, won with 48% of the votes and a 53% abstention rate.
Junnier Alberto Salazar (left) from PNG party of La Cruz. Photo by Danilo Brenes Cambronero
In Carrillo the PLN stayed in charge under Carlos Gerardo Cantillo Alvarez, the current mayor, with a 55% abstention and 41% of the votes in favor of his re-election.
Albangares was the only canton where, despite maintaining a trend, managed to surprise us. It achieved what no other canton could: electing a woman as mayor. The administrator and PLN party member Anabelle Mayela Matarrita Ulloa won with 33.2% of votes. In addition, there was just a 44% abstention rate.
Colaborated Roy Prendas, Danilo Brenes Cambronero, Daniel Vega, Wilberth Villalobos, Roberto Acuña, Ariana Crespo, Henry Morales.