Costa Ricans will pick their next president Sunday, deciding between Evangelical singer and preacher Fabricio Alvarado or his distant cousin Carlos Alvarado, a novelist and former rock-and-roller.
Polls opened at 6 a.m. and will close at 6 p.m. with 3.3 million registered voters, and results expected later tonight. The winner will take office on May 8.
Fabricio Alvarado, 43, won the most votes in a first round vote in February after he opposed a ruling by an international court that supported gay marriage in the country. He served one term as a lawmaker and leads polls heading into Sunday’s election.
Ruling party candidate Carlos Alvarado, a 38-year-old former labor minister and rock-and-roll singer, backed the international court ruling and promised to get religion out of government.
While they are not close relations, a genealogist traced both their families back to the same Costa Rican woman in the 18th century.
Both have pledged to slash the country’s record fiscal deficit and introduce “fiscal rules” that limit borrowing. The Central Bank forecasts that in the absence of tax and spending reforms, the deficit will reach 7.1 percent of gross domestic product this year and 7.9 percent in 2019.
The country has received four downgrades over the last five years from the main ratings agencies. Costa Rica’s dollar bonds have returned 1.2 percent this year, the only sovereign in its rating bucket to produce positive returns, amid optimism the fiscal situation will be addressed