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February 03, 2014 AT 5:38 AM
As voters streamed to the polls on Sunday, Costa Rica's centrist ruling party front-runner hoped to fend off a leftist surge fueled by resentment over corruption scandals and rising inequality. Centrist former San Jose Mayor Johnny Araya led polls on promises to reduce poverty, while distancing himself from President Laura Chinchilla's scandal-plagued government and painting rivals as radicals. As he passed through a voting location on Sunday morning, Araya proclaimed his candidacy "the safest, most responsible option" for Central America's second-largest economy.