SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Journalist Carlos Alvarado was sworn in Tuesday as Costa Rica's president through 2022, promising a "plural" and inclusive government following an election and runoff where same-sex marriage became a key issue.

During an inauguration ceremony at Democracy Square in the capital, San Jose, Alvarado accepted the sash of office from his predecessor and ally, Luis Guillermo Solis.

In his first speech as president, Alvarado said he intends to improve employment, education and health and fight poverty as the Central American nation nears the 200th anniversary of its independence in 2021.

"Under the clear blue of our skies, there is room for all of us, and therefore the government of the bicentennial is plural," Alvarado said. "An agreement for a national government is born and looks to sustain itself on dialogue, on the building of understanding, on good faith to respond in unity to the just aspirations of all citizens."

That was an apparent nod to gay marriage, which he supports but his opponent, Fabricio Alvarado, had opposed. The two men are not related.

The 38-year-old also touched on the country's financial difficulties, vowing to improve management of public resources and tax collection, and called on lawmakers to pass fiscal reform.

"I ask you to consider this project and advance in an opportune and hopefully swift manner. ... The future of this country and the well-being of all Costa Rican households depend on it," Alvarado said.

He added that he aims to reduce the deficit from nearly 7 percent of gross domestic product to less than 3 percent.