Conservative candidate wins first-round vote in Costa Rica presidential race

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Fabrico Alvarado Munoz surrounded by reporters at polling station in San Jose, Costa Rica. Arnulfo Franco/AP

Conservative Evangelical singer Fabricio Alvarado Munoz solidified his transformation from a long-shot candidate to a frontrunner on Feb. 5, capturing 24.8 percent of the vote in the first round of Costa Rica’s 2018 presidential election.

Alvarado Munoz has built his campaign around his opposition to an international court decision requiring the Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage, and will face off against former Labor Minister Carlos Alvarado Quesada in an April 1 runoff vote. Though they share a surname, the two candidates are not related.

Alvarado Munoz’s meteoric rise and issue based–popularity represent a marked departure from Costa Rica’s political traditions, which have long been characterized by a moderate two-party system. Nevertheless, his position on same-sex marriage has struck a nerve among a significant sector of the Costa Rican population, the majority of whom self-identify as conservative, despite the country’s progressive reputation.

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