Political Rights and Duties

Title VIII Political Rights and Duties

Chapter I
The Citizens

Article 90

Citizenship is the aggregate of political rights and duties pertaining to Costa Ricans over eighteen years of age.
(As amended by Law No. 4763, May 17, 1971.)

Article 91

Citizenship is suspended only:
  1. By judicially declared interdiction;
  2. By a judgment imposing the penalty of suspension of the exercise of political rights.

Article 92

Citizenship is restored in such cases and by such means as the law may provide.

Chapter II
The Suffrage

Article 93

Suffrage is a primary and compulsory civic function and is exercised before Election Boards through direct and secret vote by the citizens registered in the Civil Registry.
(As amended by Law No. 2345, May 20, 1959.)

Article 94

A naturalized Costa Rican citizen may not vote until twelve months after obtaining the respective certificate of naturalization.

Article 95

The law shall regulate the exercise of suffrage, in accordance with the following principles:
  1. Autonomy in the electoral function;
  2. The State duty to register citizens officially in the Civil Registry and provide them with an identity card to exercise suffrage;
  3. Effective guarantees of freedom, order, integrity and impartiality on the part of government authorities;
  4. Guarantees that the voting system does facilitate the exercise of this right to citizens;
  5. Identification of the voter by means of an identity card with a photograph or any other adequate technical means established by law for this purpose;
  6. Guarantees for representation of minorities.
  7. Guarantees of political pluralism;
  8. Guarantees for designation of authorities and candidates of political parties, in accordance with democratic principles and with no discrimination based on genre.
  9. (As amended by Article 1, Law No.7675, of July 2, 1997)
Article 96

The State may not make any deductions from the compensation of public officials for payment of political debts.

The State shall contribute to finance the expenses incurred by political parties, in accordance with the following provisions:
  1. The contribution shall be zero point nineteen percent (0.19%) of the gross domestic product of two years before the holding of the elections for President, Vice Presidents of the Republic and members of the Legislative Assembly. The law shall determine the cases when a reduction of said percentage may be decided.
  2. This percentage shall be allocated to cover the expenses incurred for the participation of political parties in these electoral processes and to satisfy the political organization and training needs. Each political party shall fix the percentages corresponding to these items.
  3. The political parties that participate in the electoral processes indicated in this article and reach at least four percent (4%) of the votes validly cast at national level, or the parties registered at provincial level that obtain at least said percentage in the province or do elect at least a member to the Legislative Assembly shall be entitled to State contribution.
  4. Upon deposit of the appropriate bonds, the political parties shall be entitled to a partial advance of the State contribution, as determined by law.
  5. In order to receive support from the State, parties are required to demonstrate their expenses before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
  6. Private contributions to political parties shall be subject to the principle of publicity and shall be regulated by law.
  7. The enactment and amendment of the law that establishes the procedures, control means and other regulations for enforcement of this article shall require the vote of two thirds of the membership of the Legislative Assembly.
  8. (As amended by Article 1, Law No. 7675, of July 2, 1997)
Article 97

For purposes of discussion and enactment of bills of law concerning electoral matters, the Legislative Assembly shall consult the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, requiring the vote of two thirds of the total membership to deviate from such opinion.

However, within six months prior to and four months after a popular election is held, the Legislative Assembly may not enact any law based on bills concerning matters about which the Supreme Electoral Tribunal had expressed disagreement.

Article 98

All citizens have the right to organize themselves in parties in order to participate in national politics, provided that such parties are committed in their platforms to respect the constitutional order of the Republic.

Political parties shall express the political pluralism, contribute to the formation and manifestation of popular will and be fundamental instruments for political participation. Their creation and the exercise of their activities shall be free within respect to the Constitution and the law. Their internal structure and operation shall be democratic.
(As amended by Article 1�, Law No.7675, of July 2, 1997)

Chapter III
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal

Article 99

The organization, direction, and supervision of acts pertaining to suffrage are the exclusive function of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which does enjoy independence in the performance of its duties. All other electoral organs are subordinate to the Tribunal.

Article 100

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall be ordinarily composed of three regular members and six alternates, appointed by the Supreme Court of Justice by a vote of no less than two thirds of its members. They shall have the same qualifications and be subject to the same responsibilities established for the justices that compose the Supreme Court.

From one year prior to and six months after the holding of general elections to elect the President of the Republic or the members of the Legislative Assembly, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall increase the number of its members with two of its alternates in order to become a tribunal of five members to serve during that period of time.

When applicable, the members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall be subject to the working conditions and the minimum working day established by the Structural Law of the Judicial Branch for justices of the Appellate Chamber. They shall also receive the same compensation fixed for those justices.
(As amended by Law No. 2345, May 20, 1959 and Law No. 3513, June 24, 1965.)

Article 101

The members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall hold office for a term of six years. The term in office of one regular member and two alternates shall be renewed every two years, but they may be reelected.

The justices of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall enjoy the same immunities and prerogatives that members of the Supreme Branches have.
(As amended by Law No. 3513, June 24, 1965.)

Article 102

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal has the following functions:
  1. To convoke popular elections;
  2. To appoint the members of the Electoral Boards, in accordance with the law;
  3. To interpret, with exclusive and compulsory effect, all constitutional and legal provisions on electoral matters;
  4. To hear the appeals against resolutions issued by the Civil Registry and the Electoral Boards;
  5. To investigate on its own or through delegates and render decisions on any claims made by parties as to political partiality of State officials in the performance of their duties or about the political activities conducted by officials who are prohibited to engage in them. A verdict of guilty rendered by the Tribunal shall be compulsory grounds for removal and shall disqualify the wrongdoer to hold public offices for a term of no less than two years, without prejudice of any criminal liability that may be established. However, if the investigation conducted includes charges against the President of the Republic, Cabinet Ministers, Diplomatic Ministers, the Comptroller General or the Assistant Comptroller of the Republic, or the justices of the Supreme Court, the Tribunal shall report the findings of its investigation to the Legislative Assembly;
  6. To adopt, with respect to the public force, pertinent measures to assure that the elections are carried out under conditions of unrestricted freedom and guarantees. In case that military recruitment is ordered, the Tribunal may also adopt suitable measures to assure that the electoral process may not be disturbed, in order that all citizens may freely cast their votes. The Tribunal may enforce these measures on its own or through its designated delegates;
  7. To conduct the official count of the votes cast in the elections for President and Vice Presidents of the Republic, members of the Legislative Assembly, members of Municipal Governments and Representatives to Constitutional Assemblies;
  8. To issue the official declaration of the election of the President and Vice Presidents of the Republic within thirty days following the date of the election, and that of the other officials mentioned in the foregoing subsection within the period established by law;
  9. Any other functions entrusted to it by this Constitution or by the laws.
Article 103

There is no appeal against the decisions of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, except for actions on the grounds of breach of public duty.

Article 104

The Civil Registry shall be exclusively under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and its functions are:
  1. To keep the Main Register of Marital Status and prepare the lists of voters;
  2. To decide on applications to acquire or recover Costa Rican citizenship, as well as cases of loss of nationality (*); to enforce Court resolutions suspending citizenship and to issue a resolution on proceedings conducted to recover it. The decisions rendered by the Civil Registry, in accordance with the powers vested upon it by this subsection, may be appealed to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal;
  3. To issue identity cards;
  4. Any other powers vested in it by this Constitution and the laws