Panama City, July 31 (Prensa Latina) In light of Panama’s 2024 general election, today is the deadline for pre-candidate registration through free application, a process that began on June 1.
According to the most recent records of the Electoral Tribunal (TE), at least 32 people are already hoping to reach the Presidency of the Republic in this way, around 402 candidates for deputies, 168 for mayors and 938 for deputies of the Corregimiento.
Among those registered for the presidential race, one of the latest To was former Panameñista Party MP Katleen Levy, who previously decided to resign from the political organization.
Levy, who was an MEP in 2014-2019, said she made the decision because the group’s president (José Isabel Blandón) did it without democracy, opportunity and transparency.
According to the TE, August 15 to July 31, 2023 is the deadline for collecting signatures, but only three can opt for the Palacio de las Garzas, those who have the largest amount of the 39,236 signatures needed (2, 0 percent of the valid votes cast in the 2019 consultation).
In 2019, the free candidacies were supported by around 1.2 million citizens, who even brought five MPs to the National Assembly (parliament) for the first time, who were able to form an independent parliamentary group.
In that election, there were about 500,000 votes of support only between the independent candidates Ricardo Lombana and Ana Matilde Gómez.
For former foreign minister and political scientist Jorge Ritter, the new rules shortened the registration time for so-called independents and made it more expensive to collect signatures for their candidacy.
At the stage of least credibility and trust in TE, he said, these reforms underscore the government’s and traditional parties’ apparent complicity with independents.
It is an institutionalized mistake, he commented two years before the presidential election, to subject the independents to this two-month challenge and then to collect signatures in an environment that is still a long way from the referendum.
Panama is preparing for its eighth general election after restoring democracy in 1989.
In this context, free candidacy has become an opportunity for those seeking political office without the mediation of traditional parties, some of which have been discredited by corruption scandals and bad governance.
The reforms also introduced changes related to the distribution of public funding before elections. While the independents get 7.0 percent, the parties come to 93 percent.
In this sense, the analysts blame the National Assembly (parliament) for the “scandalous inequalities” because it is responsible for reforming the electoral law.
For the National Front for the Defense of Economic and Social Rights, the matter is clearer: the reforms and rules of the electoral process on the Isthmus are nothing more than the prelude to a certain deception and mockery of the popular will.
On May 5, 2024, Panamanians will vote in elections for the country’s main authorities: President and Vice-President of the Republic, 20 deputies of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) and 71 deputies of the National Assembly (Parliament).
Also 81 mayors, 701 corregimiento deputies and 11 councilors, all with their respective deputies, who will hold office during the constitutional period from July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2029.