Costa Rican Libertarians Sell Out, But No One's Buying


Costa Rica's Movimiento Libertario takes government funding and tries to moderate its message; still gets trounced at the polls. From the report by "Jorge," an American libertarian in Costa Rica, at Sunni Maravillosa's blog:

The ML abandoned libertarian principles in favor of a pragmatic approach because, as Otto Guevara, the party's presidential candidate, said "we need to be more moderate and move closer to the Costa Rican people if we are going to gain power."….In 2002 the ML received 1.7% of the vote for President and 9.34% of the vote for the Asamblea, electing six Diputados (congressmen). To do this they spent a bit more than US$ 200,000 in privately raised funds, explicitly rejecting government funds as immoral.

This time around, they spent roughly US$ 1,900,000 and accepted state funds. For President, Guevara received 8.4% of the vote….For Diputado, the ML has received 9.08%. It seems that they have elected six, but one has a razor thin margin, which may just disappear when all the votes are counted….
Internally, the ML was expecting 20% for both President and the Asamblea. This was widely leaked. On the 5th of January Otto said in an interview that they were going to get 23% or 24% for President and 12 to 19 seats in the Asamblea.
Guevara and his group expelled the hard core libertarians, or as he called them "radicals," from the party, saying that they were responsible for impeding the growth of the party. He said that by becoming "moderate" they would move closer to the Costa Rican people, thereby gaining many more votes.

So, they abandoned ideology, purged the "radicals" from the party, spent 9.5 times what they did before, and came out slightly worse. Maybe significantly worse if the seat that is hanging by a thread is lost.

Add to this that one of the two major parties, in fact the one currently in power, basically imploded. PUSC has been plagued by corruption scandals and the current President is very unpopular. Their Presidential candidate only received 3.4% of the vote. For the Asamblea they only received 7.6%. Yet the ML did not benefit from PUSC's demise. Not a single seat. Can you imagine the Republican Party in the United States self destructing and the LP failing to gain anything from that?

Jacqueline Passey, another American libertarian in Costa Rica, questions the value of moderation in the pursuit of votes, with links within to other commentary on the Costa Rican election.

Otto Guevara talked to Reason's Julian Sanchez about the Movimiento's history and prospects back in 2003, when he was still opposed to state funding for the ML.