Costa Rica 1949 Constitution (reviewed 2020)

Table of Contents

Title VIII. Political Rights and Duties

Chapter I. The Citizens

Article 90

Citizenship is the set of political rights and duties that correspond to the Costa Ricans older than eighteen years of age.

Article 91

Citizenship is suspended only:

  1. By judicially declared interdiction;
  2. By a sentence imposing the penalty of suspension of the exercise of political rights.

Article 92

Citizenship is recovered in the cases and through the means that the law determines.

Chapter II. Suffrage

Article 93

Suffrage is [a] primordial and obligatory civic function and is exercised before the Electoral Boards [Juntas] in a direct and secret vote, by the citizens registered in the Civil Registry.

Article 94

The Costa Rican citizen by naturalization may not vote except after twelve months of having obtained the respective letter [carta].

Article 95

The law will regulate the exercise of suffrage in accordance with the following principles:

  1. Autonomy of the electoral function;
  2. Obligation of the State to register, of office, the citizens in the Civil Registry and to provide them with [an] identity form to exercise suffrage;
  3. Effective guarantees of freedom, order, purity [pureza] and impartiality on the part of the government authorities;
  4. Guarantees that the system to emit the suffrage facilitates to the citizens the exercise of this right;
  5. Identification of the elector through a form [cédula] with [a] photograph or other appropriate technical means provided [dispuesto] by the law for such effect;
  6. Guarantees of representation for the minorities;
  7. Guarantees of political pluralism;
  8. Guarantees for the designation of authorities and candidates of the political parties, according to democratic principles and without discrimination based on gender.

Article 96

The State may not deduct anything from the remunerations of the public servants for the payment of political debts.

The State will contribute to defray the expenses of the political parties, in accordance with the following provisions:

  1. The contribution will be of zero point nineteen percent (0.19%) of the gross domestic product of the two previous years to the celebration of the election for President, Vice Presidents of the Republic and Deputies to the Legislative Assembly. The law will determine in which cases a reduction of this percentage may be agreed to.This percentage will be allocated to cover the expenses generated by the participation of the political parties in those electoral processes, and to satisfy the necessities of political training and organization. Each political party will establish the percentages corresponding to these rubrics.
  2. The political parties that participate in the electoral processes specified in this Article and achieve [alcanzaren] at least four percent (4%) of the suffrage validly emitted on [a] national scale or those registered on [a] provincial scale, that obtain as minimum that percentage in the province or elect, at least, one Deputy[,] will have the right to the State contribution.
  3. [With] previous granting of the corresponding bonds [cauciones], the political parties will have the right to be advanced part of the State contribution, as determined by the law.
  4. To receive the contribution from the State, the parties must prove their expenses before the Supreme Tribunal of Elections.

The private contributions to the political parties will be submitted to the principle of publicity and will be regulated by law.

The law that establishes the procedures, means of control and other regulations for the application of this Article, will require, for its approval and reform, the vote of two-thirds of the total of the members of the Legislative Assembly.

Article 97

For the discussion and approval of bills of law relative to electoral matters, the Legislative Assembly must consult the Supreme Tribunal of Elections; to divert from its opinion the vote of the two-thirds part of the total of its members will be necessary.

Nevertheless, within the six months prior to and the four [months] after the celebration of a popular election, the Legislative Assembly may not convert into laws the bills on these matters with respect to which the Supreme Tribunal of Elections should have manifested its disagreement.

Article 98

The citizens will have the right to group themselves in parties to intervene in the national policy, as long as the parties commit themselves in their programs to respect the constitutional order of the Republic.

The political parties will express political pluralism, will participate in the formation and manifestation of the popular willingness and will be fundamental instruments for political participation. Their creation and the exercise of their activity will be free within respect for the Constitution and the law. Their internal structure and functioning must be democratic.

Chapter III. The Supreme Tribunal of Elections

Article 99

The organization, direction and supervision of the acts relative to the suffrage, correspond in exclusive form to the Supreme Tribunal of Elections, which enjoys independence in the performance of its mission. The other electoral organs are dependent of the Tribunal.

Article 100

The Supreme Tribunal of Elections will be integrated, ordinarily by three titular Magistrates and six substitutes, appointed by the Supreme Court of Justice by the votes of no less than two-thirds of the total of its members. They must meet equal conditions[,] and they will be subject to the same responsibilities[,] as the Magistrates that integrate the Court.

From one year prior to and until six months after the celebration of the general elections for President of the Republic or Deputies to the Legislative Assembly, the Supreme Tribunal of Elections must enlarge itself with two of its substitute Magistrates to form, in that interval, a tribunal of five members.

The Magistrates of the Supreme Tribunal of Elections will be subject to the conditions of work, in whatever is applicable, and to the minimum time of daily work that the Organic Law of the Judicial Power indicates for the Magistrates of the Chamber of Cassation, and will receive the remunerations established for them.

Article 101

The Magistrates of the Supreme Tribunal of Elections will remain in their offices six years. A titular and two substitutes must be renewed every two years, but they may be re-elected.

The Magistrates of the Supreme Tribunal of Elections will enjoy the immunities and prerogatives that correspond to the members of the Supreme Powers.

Article 102

The Supreme Tribunal of Elections has the following functions:

  1. To convoke [the] popular elections;
  2. To appoint the members of the Electoral Boards, in accordance with the law;
  3. To interpret in exclusive and obligatory form the constitutional and legal provisions referring to electoral matters;
  4. To take cognizance in appeal of the appealable resolutions issued by the Civil Registry and the Electoral Boards;
  5. To investigate by itself or through delegates, and to pronounce itself with regard to any complaint formulated by the parties on [the] political partiality of the servants of the State in the exercise of their offices, or on political activities of functionaries to whom it is prohibited to exercise them. The declaration of culpability pronounced by the Tribunal will be obligatory cause for dismissal and will incapacitate the culpable [person] from exercising public offices for a period of no less than two years, without prejudice to the penal responsibilities that may be demanded of them. However, if the investigation initiated [practicada] includes charges against the President of the Republic, Ministers of Government, Diplomatic Ministers, Comptroller and Sub-comptroller General of the Republic, or Magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, the Tribunal will limit itself to give account to the Legislative Assembly of the result of the investigation;
  6. To issue, with regard to the public force, the pertinent measures for the electoral processes to develop in conditions of unrestricted freedom and guarantees. In the case that military conscription is decreed, the Tribunal may equally issue the adequate measures not to obstruct the electoral process, so [that] all citizens may freely emit their vote. The Tribunal may have to fulfill these measures itself, or through the delegates it designates;
  7. To effect the definitive count of the suffrage emitted in the elections for President and Vice Presidents of the Republic, Deputies to the Legislative Assembly, members of the Municipalities and Representatives to Constituent Assemblies;
  8. To make the definitive declaration of the election of President and Vice Presidents of the Republic, within the thirty days following the date of the vote and in the time period that the law determines, [and] that of the other functionaries mentioned in the preceding paragraph;
  9. To organize, to direct, to supervise, to count and to declare the results of the processes of referendum. More than one referendum per year may not be convoked; or during the six months prior to or after the presidential election. The results will be binding for the State if, at least, thirty percent (30%) of the citizens registered in the electoral roll participate, for the ordinary legislation, and forty percent (40%) as [a] minimum, for the partial reforms of the Constitution and the matters that require legislative approval by [a] qualified majority.
  10. The other functions entrusted to it by this Constitution or the laws.

Article 103

The decisions of the Supreme Tribunal of Elections have no recourse, except the action for prevarication [acción por prevaricato].

Article 104

Under the exclusive dependency of the Supreme Tribunal of Elections is the Civil Registry, [of] which [the] functions are:

  1. To keep the Central Registry of the Civil Estate and to form the lists of electors;
  2. To decide on the applications to acquire or to recover the quality of Costa Rican, as well as the cases of loss of nationality; to execute the judicial sentences that suspend citizenship and to decide the procedures to recover it. The decisions issued by the Civil Registry in accordance with the attributions referred to in this paragraph, are appealable before the Supreme Tribunal of Elections;
  3. To issue the identity forms;
  4. The other attributions that this Constitution and the laws specify to it.
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