Woman leads Costa Rican presidential vote

(CNN) — Costa Rica’s first female candidate held a two-to-one lead in the country’s presidential election, as the second-place candidate, Otton Solis of the Citizen’s Action Party, conceded defeat.

If the PLN — the Spanish acronym for the ruling National Liberation Party party — wins, Laura Chinchilla would become the nation’s first female president.

Polls showed Chinchilla garnering 47.3 percent of the vote, with 24.9 percent of election sites reporting. Solis had 23.3 percent, while Otto Guevara of the Libertarian Movement had 21.9 percent.

Before noon Sunday, all three leading candidates had cast their votes in events broadcast live by local media.

If none of the candidates gain 40 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be used to select the next president.

In addition to president, Costa Ricans also cast ballots Sunday for two vice presidents, 53 congressmen and 495 councilmen.

Video footage showed flag-waving supporters of the main presidential candidates dressed in their respective campaign colors throughout the country.

International observers interviewed on CNN affiliate Teletica compared the election scene to a festival.

The festivities included election sites where children could vote in a mock presidential vote. The educational outreach let the children pick their candidate on a digital ballot not unlike the ones the rest of the electorate cast their votes with.

Some 2.8 million Costa Ricans are eligible to vote.

The legacy of outgoing President Oscar Arias — a Nobel laureate who leaves office a popular, if polarizing leader — has in many ways shaped the presidential race.

Although he has given Costa Rica a larger role in foreign affairs through his involvement in seeking resolution to the political crisis in Honduras, but his style has rubbed some the wrong way.

After casting his vote Sunday, Arias called the electoral process transparent and trustworthy.

“I would like to thank the Costa Rican people for filling the streets with color,” he said.

CNN’s Roberto Pazos contributed to this report.



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