Costa Rica has the oldest and longest-standing Democratic government in all of Latin America. The country’s political system continues to develop while keeping its democratic roots firmly and securely in place. In 1948, the government of Costa Rica demonstrated their confidence in the stability of their nation by abolishing the army. The large amount of money thus saved was then dedicated to social services such as national health care, education, public utilities to the entire country, and social services.
The Supreme Elections Tribunal - ( Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones/Supreme Electoral Tribunal ) -- here you can get up to date elections results as they are delivered. The TSE was formed after the 1949 civil war to keep future elections transparent and honest. (see Costa Rica History 102 ) at Fijatevos.com Sometimes referred to as the "fourth" power.
The Legislature - (http://www.asamblea.go.cr/ ) this unicameral body has 57 members elected once every 4 years at the same time as the president. Traditionally divided among 2 parties, in the last decade the now fragmented legislature has labored under procedures that make it difficult to pass laws with numerous parties involved. Each congressman represents a local district, however election traditions and rules bound them heavily to their party's agenda.
The Executive Branch - ( http://www.casapres.go.cr/web/ ) Strong executive leadership has been a trademark through Costa Rican history. From the first president Juan Mora who served 3 terms, to Juan Rafael Mora (no direct relation) who fortified the coffee industry and defeated William Walker, and up to Pepe Figueres who led the victorious Liberation forces in the 1949 Civil war, Costa Rica has benefited from strong leadership at crucial times. Even Oscar Arias in modern times won the Nobel Peace Prize and in his second presidency pushed through the CAFTA agreement. It remains to be seen how Costa Rica's first female president, Laura Chinchilla will be judged, but she has shown similar skills in dealing with the Nicaraguan border dispute.
The Judicial Branch - ( http://www.poder-judicial.go.cr/ ) In October of 1826 Costa Rica's first court held session, the Superior Court of Justice. Currently the system has been divided into several specialties: