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Costa Rica elects ex-minister as next president

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Carlos Alvarado, Costa Rica's president-elect. AFP

SAN JOSE (AFP) – Costa Rica on Sunday voted for a former minister from the center-left ruling party as its next president, rejecting his rival, an ultra-conservative preacher who had campaigned strongly against gay marriage.

Carlos Alvarado, a former labor minister under current President Luis Guillermo Solis, who was barred from seeking a second term, won a convincing 60.7 percent of the ballots in the run-off, electoral authorities said, based on returns from more than 90 percent of polling stations.

The right-wing preacher, Farbicio Alvarado (no relation), garnered 39.3 percent. He quickly conceded defeat to a crowd of disappointed supporters, thanked God, and congratulated Carlos Alvarado on his triumph.

Fabricio Alvarado had surged from obscurity to lead a field of 13 candidates in the first round in February by vociferously slamming moves to recognise same-sex marriage.

Carlos Alvarado, in contrast, had offered a more traditional campaign highlighting several issues – boosting education, reducing the growing deficit and enhancing environmental protections.

Pre-election surveys had suggested a neck-and-neck race. But in the end, the result was a clear and resounding win for Carlos Alvarado.

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