On Monday 8th February Costa Rica elected its first female president in a landslide victory.
The ruling party candidate, Laura Chinchilla, was elected after gaining 47% of the vote putting her well above the 40% needed to avoid an April run-off. Chinchilla has been described as the protégé of the previous president, Oscar Arias and served as his vice-president. Costa Rica is Central America’s most stable country with relatively high salaries, the longest life expectancy in Latin America and near-universal literacy.
Chinchilla is a graduate from Georgetown University, and before entering politics she worked as an NGO consultant specialising in judicial reform and public security. Her election campaign included pledges to continue free market policies and an emphasis on anti-crime legislation. She has also promised to increase grants for poor students, expand pensions for the poor and open day-centres to support working mothers. She is a social conservative, opposing abortion and gay marriage.
In an address Chinchilla said: ‘Thank you, Costa Rica…It's certainly a moment of happiness, but above all of humility...I won't betray that confidence.’
Chinchilla’s election follows an increasingly common trend in many Latin American countries; Nicaragua, Panama, Chile and Argentina have all recently elected female presidents.