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Costa Rica - Government

History Costa Rica is a democratic republic with a strong constitution. Although there are claims that the country has had more than 115 years of uninterrupted democracy, their presidential election history shows otherwise. Nonetheless, the country has had at least fifty-nine years of uninterrupted democracy, making it one of the most stable countries in the region. Costa Rica has been able to avoid the widespread violence that has plagued most of Latin America.

Costa Rica is a republic with three powers: executive responsibilities are vested in a president, legislative power is vested on the Legislative Assembly, and Judicial power is vested on the Supreme Court. There are two vice presidents as well as a cabinet designated by the president. The president, vice presidents, and fifty-seven Legislative Assembly delegates are elected for four-year terms. A constitutional amendment approved in 1969 limited presidents and delegates to one term, although delegates were allowed to run again for an Assembly seat after sitting out a term.

The Supreme Electoral Body, the Office of the Comptroller General, the Office of the Procurator General of the Republic and the Office of the Ombudsman also enjoy a lot of independence.

The Supreme Court is divided into four chambers, one dealing with Constitutional Law, one dealing with Criminal Law and two dealing with Civil Law, Merchant Law and the like.

In April 2003, the constitutional amendment ban on presidential re-election was reversed, allowing Óscar Arias (Nobel Peace Prize laureate, 1987) to run for president for a second term. In 2006, Óscar Arias was re-elected in a tight and highly contested election, running on a platform of promoting free trade. He took office on May 8, 2006.

Certain autonomous state agencies enjoy considerable operational independence; they include the telecommunications and electrical power monopoly, the nationalized commercial banks, the state insurance monopoly, and the social security agency. Interestingly, Costa Rica has no military per its constitution.