The real race for presidency was between Rómulo Roux of the Democratic Change Party and Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo of the Democratic Revolutionary Party. Cortizo was in the lead throughout the campaign, though polls differed on how far ahead, and few predicted the nail-biting finish.
The election night results on May 5 were unexpectedly close and remained too close to call for longer than anyone expected. Voter turnout was 73%. The Electoral Tribunal waited until 11:40 p.m. to announce a winner, which was the longest taken for a winner to be declared in a post-invasion election.
With all the votes tallied, Cortizo of the Democratic Revolutionary Party emerged the winner, with a favorable National Assembly to boot. (Cortizo, 33%; Rómulo, 31%.)
The real surprise of the night, however, may have come from independent candidate Ricardo Lombana. Despite placing third, his 19% of the vote sent a clear message to Panama’s politicians—people have had enough of business as usual among them and their associates. Cleaning up the corruption won’t be a promise President-elect Cortizo can renege.
Cortizo ran on cleaning Panama’s image—both at home and abroad.
What does this mean for business and investors? For Panama’s international relations?
Only one way to find out…