Costa Rica: Country and Foreign Investment
Costa Rica is a democratic Republic. The 1949 Constitution establishes a strict separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The Executive is headed by a President who is elected every 4 years and who cannot serve a second term. He is assisted by a cabinet which consists of elected members of the legislature chosen by him. The cabinet advises the President and participates in decision making processes related to their office.
The legislature consists of a congress of 57 deputies who are elected every 4 years and who can be re-elected but who cannot serve consecutive terms.
Elections held in February, 2006, were very close, but eventually Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias Sanchez assumed power for the second time, after he previously served as Costa Rican President between 1986 and 1990. Mr Arias vowed to push through the Central American Free Trade Agreement and important fiscal reforms.
Elections in February 2010 resulted in a landslide victory for Laura Chinchilla, the country's first female president. Chinchilla vowed to continue her predecessor's pro-business policies.
In practice the judiciary is the most powerful of the three branches of Government. Judges are appointed for renewable periods of 8 years by the legislature. There is no jury system in Costa Rica. As a former Spanish colony Costa Rica is a civil law jurisdiction with its laws based on the Spanish legal system. In recent years the legal system has also been influenced by the laws of Argentina and Mexico. The supreme law of Costa Rica is the 1948 Constitution.
Major challenges facing the Government involve the ability to control inflation and unemployment whilst at the same time maintaining social policies, developing the private sector and overcoming stiff political resistance to fiscal reform and the privatization of state monopolies.