A divided Partido Popular goes
with the Panameñistas again
by Eric Jackson
By a 261-180 vote, delegates to a Partido Popular special convention voted to ally their party with President Varela’s Panameñista Party in the 2019 elections. That party has nominated Panama City’s mayor, José Isabel Blandón Figueroa, as its presidential standard bearer.
By the post-invasion rotation of parties in the presidency the conventional wisdom is that the Panameñistas will be ousted from the Palacio de las Garzas, but there are legislative and local offices up for grabs in the general election as well. Political parties are prohibited from making alliances with independents, although they may nominate someone who has been running as an independent for some office or another. The Electoral Tribunal has more or less banned public opinion polls but the most common expectation is that the Cambio Democratico Party will be much reduced and that this election is for the Democratic Revolutionary Party and its presidential candidate Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo to lose. But with corruption scandals plaguing all major political parties a strong independent might win, and so far the leading independent is legislator and former attorney general Ana Matilde Gómez.
The split at the convention was in part between people with political patronage jobs in the Varela administration and those hoping for such posts in a PRD government. The leadership had recommended the alliance with the Panameñistas but convention delegates forced a vote.
Theoretically one might call the Partido Popular, originally the Christian Democrats, as a center-right formation. This alliance, however, is much more in the nature of a business deal than an ideological stance.
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