In 1969, a constitutional amendment was adopted to limit to a single term the length of a President's and Legislators tenure. This prohibition was however overturned in April 2003 effectively paving the way for the President to seek a second term. In that election, Oscar Arias Sanchez received 40% of the popular vote. The next elections are slated for February 2010.
Costa Rica has a unicameral Legislative Assembly. The assembly at full seating has fifty-seven (57) members. The members are elected by direct popular vote to a single four-year term. The Legislature writes and enacts laws for the country. Elections into the Costa Rica Legislative Assembly were held in 5 February 2006, the next scheduled polls are to be in 2010. Costa Rica does not have provincial legislature, they were abolished in 1998.
The Costa Rican Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Costa Rica highest court is the Corte Suprema or Supreme Court. The court is composed of twenty-two (22) elected Justices. The Justices are elected by for renewable eight-year terms. The terms are only renewable by the Legislative Assembly. Costa Rica's legal system is based on Spanish civil law. There is judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court. Costa Rica is also a signatory of the International Criminal Justice jurisdiction.
Although Costa Rica has no military; the Federal Government maintains a domestic Police force and an armed National Guard. President Jose Figueres Ferrer abolished the army in after the 1948 civil war. The abolition became an act of the constitution in 1949. Current President Oscar Arias Sanchez declared December 1 as the Military abolition day.
Costa Rica's political parties are very ideological with nationalist, progressive, libertarian, socialist and leftist agendas. The leading parties include Citizen Action Party (PAC), Costa Rican Renovation Party (PRC), Democratic Force Party (PFD), General Union Party ( PUGEN), Homeland First (PP), Independent Worker Party (PIO), Libertarian Movement Party (PML), National Christian Alliance Party (ANC), National Integration Party (PIN), National Liberation Party (PLN), National Patriotic Party (PPN), National Restoration Party (PRN), National Union Party (PUN), Nationalist Democratic Alliance (ADN), Patriotic Union (UP), Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), Union for Change Party (UPC) and United Leftist Coalition (IU)
Costa Rica has had periods of instability in its history with elongated periods of military rule and political uprisings against unpopular governments. For example, 1917 witnessed a 'poverty' uprising. This came after years of peaceful transitions and democratic rule. Costa Ricans revolted against the elites leading the then Costa Rica's Minister of War Federico Tinoco Granados to seize power. Tinoco would rule as a dictator. Tinoco was later overthrown and forced into exile. More economic woos brought on by the Great Depression in the 1930's brought further social unrest in Costa Rica. Costa Rican's again revolted against social ills; malnutrition, unemployment, low pay, and poor working conditions. The 44-day Costa Rican civil war is the bloodiest event in its history. It was a result of a disputed presidential election. Costa Ricans are very politically aware and demonstrate against unpopular policies of their Government.
Costa Rica formally proclaimed itself a sovereign