1948 Costa Rican general election

General elections were held in Costa Rica on 8 February 1948.[1] Otilio Ulate Blanco of the National Union Party won the presidential election with 55.3% of the vote, although the elections were deemed fraudulent and annulled by Congress, leading to the Costa Rican Civil War later that year.[2] Following the war, the results of the parliamentary election were also annulled.[1] Voter turnout was 43.8% in the vice-presidential election and 49.2%.[3]

1948 Costa Rican general election

← 1944 8 February 1948 1953 →
  Otilio Ulate Blanco cropped.jpg Calderón Guardia 1940 cropped.jpg
Nominee Otilio Ulate Rafael Calderón
Alliance National Opposition Victory Bloc
Home state San José San José
Popular vote 54.931 44,438
Percentage 55.3% 44.7%

President before election

Teodoro Picado

Elected President

Otilio Ulate


In 1944, four days after the elections were over while celebrating the triumph of Teodoro Picado, Calderón's candidacy was announced for the next elections.[4]

The main opposition parties; the Democratic Party, the National Union Party and the Social Democratic Party held a convention to choose a single candidate. The pre-candidates were Fernando Castro Cervantes (Democrat), Otilio Ulate Blanco (Unionist) and José Figueres Ferrer (Social-Democrat).[4] Figueres is eliminated in the first round and with his support Ulate wins in the second. Figueres is named chief of action and Mario Echandi is secretary general of the coalition. While Calderón was named candidate on March 23, 1947 at the Republican Convention.[4]

The National Electoral Tribunal is created for the first time in charge of supervising the elections, this so that it is not the government (as it was until then) that regulated them and thus appease the moods that accused the government of interfering in favor of the official candidate. Even so, the work of the TNE was limited.[4]

The situation is tremendously tense between government and opposition. The youth of the National Opposition Coalition violently confronts the Communist Brigades during the debate on the budgets of the electoral bodies in the Congress.[4]

The opposition insists that it will not repeal the social reforms, while the "caldero-communists" affirm that they must win once more to consolidate them permanently and that the opposition will abolish them after winning.[4]

The tension increases and even groups of the opposition become subversive. The Cartago Province, one of the strongholds of the opposition, begins a general strike and a series of social uprisings that force Picado to remove the governor (who was appointed by the president) and other local rulers, although this does not calm the spirits. In addition, the government faces a large national strike known as the "arms-down strike" and the clashes leave many dead.[4]


On February 28, 1948 the National Electoral Tribunal issued a ruling on the elections with two opinions, the majority signed by magistrates Gerardo Guzmán and José María Vargas, and the minority signed by magistrate Max Koberg. The majority found inconsistencies in the count and nullity of the padron: 14,000 votes exceeded the voters who had participated in theory and who gave the win to Ulate, inconsistency whereby the elections were canceled. The minority one does not. The Constitutional Congress heard both opinions generated an intense debate between the Calderonistas and communists deputies who advocated in favor of annulling the elections and the opposition deputies.

The Congress did not annul the parliamentary elections where the ruling coalition had been favored, even though the irregularities denounced in the presidential elections applied to both. In any case, this cancellation was the trigger for the Costa Rican Civil War or "48 War". After which the "Founding Junta of the Second Republic" presided over by Figueres would ruled de facto for 18 months, then giving the presidency to Otilio Ulate in 1949.[4]



Candidate Party Votes %
Otilio Ulate Blanco National Union Party 54,931 55.3
Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia National Republican Party 44,438 44.7
Invalid/blank votes 0 -
Total 99,369 100
Source: Nohlen
Popular Vote
National Union
National Republican


  1. ^ a b Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, p155 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
  2. ^ Nohlen, p178
  3. ^ Nohlen, p156
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Rodríguez Vega, Eugenio (2004). Costa Rica en el siglo veinte. EUNED. ISBN 9789968313834.