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Elections in Costa Rica: a new opportunity to celebrate our democracy


Costa Rica is a democratic republic which holds national and municipal elections every four years. Citizens have a choice of voting for different several political parties. 


Three and a half million Costa Ricans are able to vote in the national elections on Sunday, February 6, 2022. They will elect the president along with two vice-presidents and the 57 deputies of the Legislative Assembly for 2022-2026.


Voting abroad


Costa Rica guarantees citizens their political right to vote. The TSE has provided the necessary provisions for Costa Ricans living permanently or temporarily abroad to be able to vote in the presidential elections.


In accordance with Article 187 of the Electoral Code, Costa Ricans may exercise their right to vote abroad to elect the President and Vice-Presidents of the Republic, as well as to vote in national referendums, i.e. referendum processes.


Every four years during the national elections the Costa Rican consulates worldwide become an arm of the TSE in order to allow citizens to vote abroad. For the upcoming elections, 973 voters are registered at the Consulate General of Costa Rica in Germany and will be able to vote for the President and Vice-President of the Republic.


What are the requirements to become President of Costa Rica?

Persons who wish to occupy the presidency and vice-presidencies (according to article 131 of the Constitution) have to fulfil certain requirements. They must be:


- Costa Rican by birth

- An active citizen 

- Older than 30 years old

- Not be part of the Church hierarchy


In Costa Rica, in order to win the presidency, a person must obtain at least 40% of the votes. If none of the candidates obtain this percentage, the two people with the most votes go to a second round. 


In addition, a person who has held the presidency of the Republic can be re-elected to the post, but for that to happen, he or she must wait eight years after the period in which he or she last held office.


What is the TSE?


The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) in Costa Rica was one of the main institutional innovations of the Political Constitution of 1949 and has as its primary function the "organisation, direction and supervision of the acts related to suffrage."  This model of electoral organisation constituted a milestone in public law not only for Costa Rica, but for all of Latin America, as the TSE has the status of the fourth branch of the State, equating it with the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature. 


Mission and functions


Electoral administration: The TSE organises, directs and controls all acts related to suffrage. 


Civil registry: The TSE issues identity cards, prepares the electoral roll and registers and certifies all acts related to civil matters, including birth, adoption, marriage, divorce, acquisition of Costa Rican nationality or death. 


Jurisdictional: The TSE has the power to issue non-appealable rulings on electoral matters.


Formation in democracy: The Institute for Training and Studies in Democracy (Instituto de Formación y Estudios en Democracia) is a specialised unit of the TSE that focuses on the promotion of democratic values and active citizenship. It also provides support to the education system, electoral training to political parties and promotes research on elections and democracy.

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International prizes awarded to Costa Rica

October 2021: The Earthshot Award

Costa Rica was honored with the prestigious Earthshot Award in the Protect and Restore Nature category for its successful conservation model and policy of paying citizens to protect forests and restore ecosystems. Designed to protect the planet and encourage change over the next 10 years, the award is given by the UK's Royal Foundation to winners whose solutions substantially help the environment.

Costa Rica will use the prize of more than US$1 million to develop marine conservation and counteract the impacts of climate change.

"This award is an opportunity to strengthen conservation in our national treasure, Cocos Island, and the waters of the Pacific and Caribbean," said Minister of Environment and Energy Andrea Meza. "The time has come to replicate in the sea what has been done on land."

December 2020: UN Global Climate Action Award

Costa Rica was one of the winning countries in the UN Global Climate Action Awards in the category of Financing for Climate Friendly Investment for the Payments for Environmental Services (PES) Program. This is a financial mechanism that promotes forest ecosystem conservation.

December 2020: World Bank project

In 2020, Costa Rica signed an agreement that will allow it to receive $60 million over five years in recognition of the forest protection and emissions reductions made by thousands of families, communities and public entities. The agreement will particularly benefit women's and youth groups engaged in conservation actions and key populations such as indigenous groups.

November 2020: Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) finances climate change mitigation and adaptation projects and, in 2020, they agreed to grant Costa Rica a total of $54 million in recognition of 14.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide captured in 2014 and 2015 by the country's forests.

October 2019: The Global Ocean Refuge Award

Cocos Island National Park was awarded the distinguished international Blue Park Award by the U.S. Marine Conservation Institute. This recognition is due to Costa Rica´s management of the marine protected area, as well as the Cocos Island National Park´s environmental protection efforts and its commitment to biodiversity conservation.

September 2019: Champions of the Earth Award

The United Nations' highest environmental honor was given to Costa Rica in the category of Political Leadership. This was in recognition of its role in the protection of nature and its commitment to ambitious policies to combat climate change. The country has been particularly lauded for its National Decarbonization Plan to achieve a zero emissions economy by 2050.

September 2019: Montreal Protocol International Award

This distinction rewards the country's work in the prevention of illicit trafficking of substances that deplete the ozone layer, specifically for the actions carried out in 2014 with the seizure of 400 cylinders containing the refrigerant R-22 of the HCFC family (an ozone-depleting substance).

May 2019: Global Sustainability Forum (GSF) Award.

This is an initiative of the United Nations and companies of the Business Council for Sustainable Development. The honor is traditionally bestowed upon private companies in recognition of their efforts in sustainable practice, but in 2019 it was awarded to a country for the first time.

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