2014 General Elections in the Republic of Panama

In a few days, authorities of popular vote will be elected; these authorities will serve in government for the next 5 years. The four authorities are: Representatives, Mayors, Deputies and the President of the Nation. The elections will be held on Sunday May 4th 2014.  

It is very important to understand that 4 authorities rule each sector in Panama. The authorities represent the Executive power in each sector; these authorities are elected by popular vote. The general elections are a means to elect these four authorities: “Representatives”, who represent the corregimientos (a Spanish term used for country subdivisions for administrative purposes), the “Mayors” representing the Districts, the “Deputies” representing the electoral districts, and the “Presidency” representing the whole nation.

Requirements in order to vote: One must legally be an adult (18 years of age), in possession of a valid national ID, and enrolled in the Electoral Register. Panamanians living abroad may also vote if they have been previously enrolled in the Electoral Register.

How Elections are performed
Usually schools are used as voting centers. Often representatives of the political parties and the electoral court will help organize the voting procedure. These officials will help to confirm that people are listed in the electoral register; they will also help direct them to the table where they must vote. When at the voting table, voters must show their national ID, and the panel of the electoral court must say the name out loud and proceed to search for it in the electoral register; when the person’s name is found, 4 ballot papers are given to them. On this paper candidates can choose a Representative, Mayor, Deputy and President. After the ballot is deposited, the person must return to the voting table, where his ID will be returned to him after a voting certification is signed.

The voting schedule is as follows: At 6:00 a.m., all voting tables will be installed. At 7:00 a.m. the general elections will start. At 2:00 p.m., the Scrutiny Boards will be installed. At 4:00 p.m., the elections will be closed.

When the election ends, the members of each table will begin counting votes; this is a public procedure. For such a procedure the Manila paper and any other material than can affect the visibility of the persons inside and outside the rooms must be removed. Votes are to be counted one by one; the ballots must be shown to the public and to the representatives of the political parties. Votes will be counted in the following order: President, Deputies, Mayors and Representatives.

Election silence period in the electoral propaganda
Demonstrations, rallies, caravans, any political propaganda and social media voices, are allowed until Thursday 1 May 2014 at 12:00 a.m., and may resume on Monday 5 May 2014 at 12:00 p.m. This also applies to wedges, any type of advertisements or state propaganda.

From noon on Saturday May 3 until noon on Monday May 5, all bars, wineries, nightlife entertainment centers, dance halls and other places that sell alcoholic beverages will remain closed and its sale, gift, transfer use and consumption is prohibited. Foreigners in hotels where they are staying are exempted from this prohibition.

The 3 main political groups in Panama for this election are:

Democratic Change: with 508,191 registered members by 31 December 2013, Democratic Change is one of the newest political parties; founded by Ricardo Martinelli in 1998, who is the current President of Panama. His candidate for president is José Domingo Arias and the Vice-president candidate Marta Linares de Martinelli (current First Lady).

Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD): with 506,591 registered members by 31 December 2013 is currently the oldest party in Panama; founded in 1979 by Omar Torrijos, who is recognized by the Torrijos-Carter treaty that gave back the Panama Channel to the Panamanians. Its presidential candidate is Juan Carlos Navarro and the vice-presidential candidate is former Judge of the Electoral Court Gerardo Solís.

Panamanian Party: with 239,675 registered members by 31 December 2013 is the third largest Panamanian party; it was founded by Arnulfo Arias Madrid in 1991 who was three times President of Panama. This party is known also as “Arnulfismo” in reference to its founder. Its presidential candidate is Juan Carlos Varela and its vice-presidential candidate Isabel Saint Malo.