President of Costa Rica

President of the
Republic of Costa Rica
Presidente de la República de Costa Rica
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Carlos Alvarado Le Chateu (cropped).jpg
Carlos Alvarado Quesada

since 8 May 2018
Style Excelentísimo Señor
Residence Casa Presidencial, Costa Rica
Term length Four years, not eligible for re-election
Inaugural holder José María Castro Madriz
Formation 31 August 1848[1]
Deputy Vice President of Costa Rica
Salary 9,460 USD per month[2]
Website President of Costa Rica
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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Costa Rica
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The President of the Republic of Costa Rica is the head of state and head of government of Costa Rica. The president is currently elected in direct elections for a period of four years, which is not immediately renewable. Two vice presidents are elected in the same ticket with the president. The president appoints the Council of Ministers.[3] Due to the abolition of the military of Costa Rica in 1948, the president is not a commander-in-chief, unlike the norm in most other countries, although the Constitution does describe him as commander-in-chief of the civil defense public forces.[4]

From 1969 to 2005, the president was barred from seeking reelection. After the amendment banning reelection was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2005, an incumbent president became eligible to run again after waiting for at least eight years after leaving office.


The President of Costa Rica is elected using a modified two-round system in which a candidate must receive at least 40% of the vote to win in the first round; if no candidate wins in the first round, a runoff is held between the two candidates with the largest number of votes.[5]


According to Article 131 of the Constitution, The following is required to be president or vice president of the Republic:

  1. To be Costa Rican by birth and a citizen in exercise;
  2. To have secular status;
  3. To be older than thirty years.

Attributes and duties

According to article 139 of the Constitution of Costa Rica, are exclusive attributes[4] of the president:

  1. To freely appoint and to remove the ministers of government;
  2. To represent the Nation in the acts of official character;
  3. To exercise the supreme command of the public force;
  4. To present to the Legislative Assembly, at the initiation of the first annual period of sessions, a written message relative to the various matters of the Administration and to the political state of the Republic and in which he must, additionally, propose the measures that he judges important for the good functioning of the Government and the progress and well-being of the Nation;
  5. To previously communicate to the Legislative Assembly, when he intends to leave the country, the motives for his trip.

Article 140 gives the president the following duties[4] alongside the respective minister:

  1. To freely appoint and to remove the members of the public force, the employees and functionaries who serve offices of confidence, and the others that, in very qualified cases, the Law of [the] Civil Service determines;
  2. To appoint and to remove, subject to the requirements provided by the Law of [the] Civil Service, the rest of the [public] servants of their dependency;
  3. To sanction and to promulgate the laws, to regulate them, to execute them and to see to their exact fulfillment;
  4. In the recesses of the Legislative Assembly, to decree the suspension of [the] rights and guarantees that paragraph 7) of Article 121 refers to[,] in the same cases and with the same limitations established there[,] and immediately give account to the Assembly. The decree of suspension of guarantees is equivalent, ipso facto, to the convocation of the Assembly to sessions, which must meet within the following forty-eight hours. If the Assembly does not confirm the measure by two-thirds of the votes of the totality of its members, the guarantees will be considered restored. If because of lack of quorum the Assembly cannot meet, it will do so the next day with any number of Deputies. In this case the decree of the Executive Power needs to be approved by [a] vote of no less than the two-thirds part of those present;
  5. To exercise the initiative in the formation of the laws, and the right of veto;
  6. To maintain the order and the tranquility of the Nation, to take the necessary measures [providencias] for the guarding of the public liberties;
  7. To provide for the collection and the investment of the national incomes in accordance to the laws;
  8. To see to the good functioning of the administrative services and dependencies;
  9. To execute and to have fulfilled all that decided [on] or provided [for] in the matters of their competence [by] the tribunals of Justice and the electoral organs, at the solicitation of the same;
  10. To celebrate agreements, public treaties and concordats, to promulgate them and to execute them once approved by the Legislative Assembly or by a Constituent Assembly, when that approval is required by this Constitution. The protocols derived from those public treaties or international agreements that do not require legislative approval, will enter into force once promulgated by the Executive Power.
  11. To render to the Legislative Assembly the reports that it solicits from them is use of its attributions;
  12. To direct the international relations of the Republic;
  13. To receive the Heads of State as well as the diplomatic representatives, and to admit the Consuls of other nations;
  14. To convoke the Legislative Assembly to ordinary and extraordinary sessions;
  15. To send to the Legislative Assembly the bill of National Budget at the time and with the requirements determined in this Constitution;
  16. To dispose of the public force to preserve the order, defense and security of the country;
  17. To issue navigation licenses;
  18. To give themselves the appropriate regulations for the internal regime of their offices and to issue the other regulations and ordinances necessary for the prompt execution of the laws;
  19. To subscribe the administrative contracts not included in paragraph 14) of Article 121 of this Constitution, under reserve of submitting them to the approval of the Legislative Assembly when they stipulate [the] exemption of taxes or rates, or [when] they have for their object the exploitation of public services, natural resources or wealth of the State.
  20. The legislative approval of these contracts will not give them character of laws nor will exempt them from their administrative juridical regime. That provided in this paragraph will not be applicable to the loans or other similar agreements, referred to in paragraph 15) of Article 121, which will be governed by their special norms;
  21. To fulfill the other duties and to exercise the other attributions that this Constitution and the laws confer to them.


The Constitution also establishes limitations on the president's powers[4] which can be prosecuted if broken.

Article 148.

The President of the Republic will be responsible for the use he makes of those attributions that according to this Constitution correspond to him in an exclusive form. Each Minister of Government will be jointly responsible with the President[,] in respect to the exercise of the attributions that this Constitution grants to both of them. The responsibility for the acts of the Council of Government will extend to all those who concurred with their vote to adopt the respective agreement.

Article 149

The President of the Republic and the Minister of Government who had participated in the acts indicated as follows, will also be jointly responsible:

  1. When they compromise in any form the freedom, the political independence or the territorial integrity of the Republic;
  2. When they impede or obstruct directly or indirectly the popular elections, or infringe upon the principles of alternation in the exercise of the Presidency or of free presidential succession, or against the freedom, order or purity of the suffrage;
  3. When they impede or obstruct the functions that are specific to the Legislative Assembly, or restrict its freedom and independence;
  4. When they refuse to publish or execute the laws or other legislative acts;
  5. When they impede or obstruct the functions specific to the Judicial Power, or [when they] restrict the freedom with which the Tribunals must judge the causes submitted to their decision, or when they obstruct in some form the functions that correspond to the electoral organs or the municipalities;
  6. For all the other cases in which the Executive Power by action or omission violates some expressed law.

List of presidents of Costa Rica

Living former presidents

There are seven living former presidents. The most recent former president to die was Luis Alberto Monge (1982–1986), on November 29, 2016.

Latest election

Candidate Party First round Second round
Votes % Votes %
Carlos Alvarado Citizens' Action Party 466,129 21.63 1,281,292 60.79
Fabricio Alvarado National Restoration Party 538,504 24.99 828,243 39.21
Antonio Álvarez National Liberation Party 401,505 18.63
Rodolfo Piza Social Christian Unity Party 344,595 15.99
Juan Diego Castro National Integration Party 205,602 9.54
Rodolfo Hernández Social Christian Republican Party 106,444 4.94
Otto Guevara Libertarian Movement 21,890 1.02
Edgardo Araya Broad Front 16,862 0.78
Sergio Mena New Generation Party 16,329 0.76
Mario Redondo Christian Democratic Alliance 12,638 0.59
Stephanie Campos Costa Rican Renewal Party 12,309 0.57
Óscar López Accessibility without Exclusion 7,539 0.35
Jhon Vega Workers' Party 4,351 0.20
Invalid/blank votes 28,067 24,004
Total 2,182,764 100 2,133,539 100
Registered voters/turnout 3,322,329 65.70 66.99
Source: TSE, TSE (95.58% of polling stations processed)

See also


  1. ^ El Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones: Presidentes de la República de Costa Rica
  2. ^ "Shocking Gap Between Latin America's Presidential Salaries And Workers Minimum Wage". Latin Post.
  3. ^ executive branch
  4. ^ a b c d Anonymous. "Constitution of Costa Rica" (PDF). Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  5. ^ Costa Rica IFES