73 years have passed since our country allowed women to vote, and now, the female vote, especially that of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), is the one that has the most weight in the elections .
In the register that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) will use for the next elections, 1.8 million of the voters are concentrated in the GAM, where 51% of those registered are women. They have been decisive in past elections, having in their hands the power to lead a candidate for the presidency.
In the last elections, GAM voters represented 56% of the total votes. For their part, the votes outside the GAM were only 44%. This is revealed by a study carried out by La Nación based on data provided by the TSE.
This area concentrates most of the population in 164 districts that represent 4% of the national territory. These communities are located in the main cities of San José, Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago.
For the year 2018, in the first round, 73 of every 100 women of the GAM voted; at the national level, these votes represented 30% of all presidential ballots.
In that area, the participation was lower: of every 100 only 67 went to the polls, contributing 26% of the national voters.
Outside the GAM, the data also places women as the main voters. In those elections, 64 out of every 100 female voters voted. In the case of men, only 57 out of 100 did so.
Women and men outside the metropolitan region contributed, respectively, 23% and 21% of the voters in the first electoral round of that year.
Regarding the levels of abstentionism, in the GAM only 23% of registered women did not vote, while 33% of men did not either.
Outside the metropolitan region, female abstentionism was higher, with 33% of those registered without voting. However, the figures here also show the tendency for women to vote more, since in the rest of the country men's abstention rate was 43%.
Breakdown of the 2022 census
SOURCE: TSE||LA NACIÓN.
GAM vote determines president
The weight of the GAM votes is also closely related to the choice of presidential candidates. For example, in February 2018 in this region the current president Carlos Alvarado swept the polls. In the rest of the country Fabricio Alvarado obtained a majority.
Similar case occurred for the first round of 2014, when the then candidate and later president Luis Guillermo Solís led the vote in the GAM, with the Citizen Action Party (PAC). Meanwhile, Costa Ricans outside the metropolitan area gave their support to Johnny Araya, then a candidate for the National Liberation Party (PLN).
This behavior of the GAM has also allowed the metropolitans to define the last two rulers in the second round, which means that their vote has greater weight when choosing a candidate.
In the 2010 elections, the last elections in which the president was elected in a single call, the social democrat candidate Laura Chinchilla emerged victorious, both in the GAM and in the rest of the country.
Older women are more
For the next elections, the largest group of female voters is concentrated in the GAM. Of the 1.7 million registered women, 934,000 are from the metropolitan region, this represents 26% of the entire electoral roll that will be in force for the next elections. Women voters registered by the TSE outside the GAM occupy 24% of the register.
According to a study published in 2019 by political scientist Rónald Alfaro Redondo, a researcher at the Center for Political Research and Studies (CIEP) at the University of Costa Rica, Women vote more than men.
Alfaro's research was based on an analysis of the five presidential elections that took place in the country between 1994 and 2010. The study, which the research center dedicated eight years to, revealed the main factors that lead women to be more participatory.
Alfaro's research showed that women have progressively taken on a more leading role in Costa Rican politics since the mid-nineties.
One of the discoveries was that women are more influential than men as agents of political socialization for their children, which contributes to the fact that mothers have a greater impact than fathers on this democratic behavior.
A TSE study revealed that from 1948, when women were granted the right to vote, until 2005, the female vote was more consistent than the male vote. In this period it was concluded that 58.3% of women voted whenever they had the right to do so, while only 51.9% of men voted.
Breakdown of the 2022 census
SOURCE: TSE||LA NACIÓN.
Another of the data provided in the analysis carried out by La Nación shows the relationship between attendance at the polls and the social development index (IDS).
The cantons with the highest participation in the 2018 elections are those with the best socioeconomic indexes, this was the case of San Rafael de Escazú.
According to data from the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy (Mideplán), taken the year before the 2018 elections, that Escazú district had a perfect IDS, with 100 points; that community registered a participation of 73%.
The district of Sánchez, in Curridabat, obtained the second place in development of the GAM, with 99% of IDS, and a participation of 80% of the electorate.
La Asunción de Belén, in Heredia, and San Juan de La Unión, in Cartago, tied for third place; both districts have an IDS of 97 points and a voter turnout of 77%.
In total there are 139 districts with a participation higher than the national average, which for the first contest of 2018 was 65.7%.