The Costa Rican held the first direct election in 1913. An unequivocal winner failed to find and the National Assembly appointed Alfredo González Flores as president. Dissatisfied with the reforms proposed by González, General Federico Tinoco conducted Granados one of the few coups that the country has experienced. His government was never recognized, and after threats of intervention by the United States, Tinoco was forced to resign in 1919.
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The subsequent governments were supported by the plantation owners and financiers during the period between 1940 and 1948. The candidate of the National Unity Party, Otilio Ulate’s, 1948 election victory was not recognized by Congress, leading to civil war. The conflict ended with the appointment of a junta, led by José Figueres, who printed elections among MPs who ratified the election of Ulate as president. A year later a new very strong presidential constitution was introduced, which included banned the creation of a regular army.
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The populist revolution led by Figueres was an encouragement to the anti-colonialist movements throughout Central America.
Here begins the period of «Welfare State Capitalism». José Figueres assumed power in 1954; he deepened his populist line, adding a strong element of anti-communism. In 1958, Figueres was replaced by more conservative forces; a development policy strategy was launched – following pressure from the USA – to reduce imports.
From this point on, the traditional conflict between conservatives and liberals was resolved by other conflicts between Figueres’ party, the National Freedom Party, the PLN, and a diverse congregation of several smaller parties. In 1966, José Joaquin Trejos from the opposition party won the National Unity Party, the presidential election.
PLN, with Figueres at the forefront, managed to regain power after the 1970 election; he retained it until 1974, when the co-founder of PLN in 1950, Daniel Odúber Quirós, took over the country’s highest office.
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Odúber went to great lengths to reestablish unity among the members of the Central American Common Market, which had been in crisis since the 1962 El Salvador-Honduras war. repeated occasions threatened Costa Rica. The country granted residence permits to thousands of political refugees.
The nationalization in 1975 of the multinational oil companies responsible for the distribution of petroleum products on the domestic market, together with the increase in the price of the country’s most important export article, coffee, created an opportunity to improve the population’s income level.
Contrary to all predictions, the 1978 presidential election became a triumph for the Conservative opposition, revealing certain administrative and polemical aspects perpetrated by Figueres and his government. At the same election, the Left, united in the United Nations coalition, could significantly strengthen its support among voters. Nevertheless, the left remained isolated and without the opportunity to develop a program of social change that included both democracy and pluralism and which could convince the vast majority of the population.
The subsequent government, led by Rodrigo Carazo Odio, was characterized by its unpopular economic policy, which had drawn inspiration from the IMF, and by a confrontational course vis-à-vis trade unions and left-wing parties. However, following threats of invasion by the dictator Anastasio Somoza, the government – due to the people’s backing to the Nicaragua sand ministers – decided to provide assistance to the opposition in Nicaragua.
The attitude towards the Salvadoran revolutionaries in the late 1980’s was quite different; in spite of the massive human rights violations, the Salvadoran military junta received political support from the San José government, while in May 1981 Rodrigo Carazo severed diplomatic relations with Cuba.
With support from the United States government, the Democratic Central American Society was established in San José in January 1982 – the purpose was to isolate Nicaragua.