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Published: Monday February 3, 2014 MYT 11:05:02 AM
Updated: Monday February 3, 2014 MYT 11:05:57 AM

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

Supporters of candidates Johnny Araya of the National Liberation Party, and Luis Guillermo Solis of the Citizens' Action Party, celebrate after polls closed in San Jose February 2, 2014. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

Supporters of candidates Johnny Araya of the National Liberation Party, and Luis Guillermo Solis of the Citizens' Action Party, celebrate after polls closed in San Jose February 2, 2014. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

SAN JOSE (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.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Simon Gardner)

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