Costa Rica: Paradise in Doubt

Issue Date July 2005
Volume 16
Issue 3
Page Numbers 140-154
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Latin America’s oldest democracy is undergoing a crisis of confidence, one made manifest by the recent jailing of two former presidents on corruption charges. This paper analyzes how changing electoral preferencesis behind the disintegration of the two-party system. It examines how citizen dissatisfaction is rooted in the difficulty of overseeing more than one hundred autonomous institutions responsible for a wide array of governmental functions. It also examines the political repercussions of chronic fiscal deficits. Reasonable levels of economic growth and the resilience of the political system should permit a recovery that, however, will be neither quick nor painless.

About the Author

Fabrice Lehoucq is professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the author of Political Instability and Its Legacies: Regime Trajectories in Latin America (forthcoming).

View all work by Fabrice Lehoucq