February 3, 2014 / 2:37 AM / 4 years ago

Costa Rica ruling party hope has early vote lead, run-off possible

SAN JOSE, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Costa Rica's centrist ruling party hopeful Johnny Araya had a strong early lead in Sunday's presidential contest, but could still face a run-off, preliminary election results showed.

Araya, a former mayor of San Jose, had around 36 percent of the vote with 9 percent of polling booths counted, while left-leaning newcomer Luis Guillermo Solis lay in second with 21 percent. Left-wing lawmaker Jose Maria Villalta was in third with 17.4 percent.

An April run-off between the top two vote-getters is required if no single candidate wins more than 40 percent of the vote.

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