|06SANJOSE227||2006-01-31 16:41:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy San Jose|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SAN JOSE 000227
1. The most scientific poll on the February 5 elections
shows that Oscar Arias has twice the support of his closest
rival, Otton Solis -- 49.6 percent to Solis's 25.4 percent.
(Arias needs only 40 percent to avoid a runoff election.)
Arias leads among all socioeconomic (education and income)
groups except university-educated where Solis has the edge.
Among low-income Costa Ricans, Arias has his biggest lead
over Solis, 61 percent to 16 percent, which appears to refute
Solis's claim that Arias is the "neoliberal" representative
of the rich. Libertarian candidate Otton Guevara's support
seems to be faltering, now down to 11.8 percent; he has 22
percent of first-time voters, however. None of the remaining
11 candidates scored better than 4 percent in the poll.
While Arias's National Liberation Party (PLN) is projected to
win slightly less than a majority in the Legislative
Assembly, it will be twice as strong as the only party likely
to oppose his policies. End summary.
2. From January 15 to 23, Unimer Research International
interviewed 2,423 Costa Rican adults house to house
throughout the country on their voting preferences. The
sample was considerably larger than competing polls (ref A),
and the margin of error was 2.3 percent. Of the sample, 42
percent attended primary school, 34 percent secondary school,
23 percent university, and 1 percent had no schooling at all.
In income, 33 percent were low, 60 percent middle, and 7
3. The polls showed Arias far ahead of his rivals with the
support of 49.6 percent of probable voters. (Only 40 percent
is needed to avoid a runoff election.) Moreover, Arias leads
in all the demographic subgroups with one exception, the
university-educated who prefer Otton Solis to Arias, 41
percent to 32 percent. Arias does better the older, less
educated, and lower income the voter is. Of voters who had a
party preference (and 34.4 percent did not), Arias's National
Liberation Party (PLN) had the most support at 35.5 percent.
4. Otton Solis has the support of 25.4 percent of the
voters, but his base is rather narrow socioeconomically and
geographically, coming primarily from the better educated,
higher income, and residents of the Central Valley (where San
Jose is located). The party he founded, the Citizens' Action
Party (PAC), is preferred by 13.6 percent of the voters.
Solis is the candidate of the left and anti-CAFTA-DR.
5. Libertarian Otto Guevara's support has showed a slight
decline and is now at 11.8 percent. At age 45, he is the
youngest of the three major candidates, and the youth of the
voters appears to be an important factor favoring his
candidacy. He wins 17 percent of voters under 30, but only 4
percent of the voters over 50. He has the support of 22
percent of first-time voters. Guevara's Libertarian Movement
Party (ML), with the support of 6.2 percent of voters, is now
tied for third place in voter sympathy with the Social
Christian Unity Party (PUSC), which has governed Costa Rica
for the last eight years.
All the Rest
6. The other 11 candidates appear to be fading as the
election draws closer. Their combined support is 13.2
percent with the best of them, Antonio Alvarez Desanti,
getting 3.8 percent.
7. How effectively Oscar Arias will be able to govern will
be largely dependent on the amount of support he has in the
Legislative Assembly. The Unimer poll shows that Arias's PLN
is likely to obtain 28 seats, i.e., one short of a majority
in the 57-member unicameral body. The major opposition
party, PAC, is forecast to win 15 seats. The four other
parties expected to win at least one seat, including 6 for ML
and 6 for PUSC, are closer politically to the PLN than to
PAC. Arias therefore should have a fairly compliant
legislature, one that should support CAFTA-DR.
8. The most interesting result in this poll is the
difference in voting preferences between high-income and
low-income voters. The candidates who are considered to be
of the right, Oscar Arias and Otto Guevara, whom leftist
candidate Otton Solis accuses of being "neoliberal"
representatives of the rich and wanting to hand the country
on a platter to multinationals, do better in the polls with
low-income voters than with high-income voters. In Arias's
case, the difference (61 percent to 39 percent) is
remarkable. For Solis, the defender of state monopolies, the
result is reversed; he has 16 percent support from low-income
voters and 35 percent from high-income voters. This seems to
indicate that the statist economic policies that Solis
advocates do not have the support of the poorest third of the