Roux wins the CD primary

Roux 67,311, Mulino 28,693 — a convincing win for the corporate lawyer and former government minister within the CD scheme of things but unimpressive across the nation as a whole. There may be enough time to revise things, starting with the establishment of a distance from party founder Ricardo Martinelli. Graphic from Rómulo Roux’s Facebook page.

Roux to top a shrunken CD’s ticket

by Eric Jackson

Rómulo Roux won the Cambio Democratico presidential primary for the 2019 elections as convincingly as he lost his bid to be the party’s 2014 nominee. Back on May 12, 2013 he got 49,628 votes to José Domingo Arias’s 122,483, with several other insignificant candidates on the ballot.

This August 12 he got 67,311 votes to José Raúl Mulino’s 28,693, also with a phalanx of diminutive also-rans listed.

Arias and the people on his ticket had hundreds of millions in stolen public funds to buy votes, plus a “big data” list stolen from confidential public archives, yet he lost. Now he’s seeking the nomination of a new minor party and in and out of jail as several corruption cases from the Martinelli years come in and out of play.

When Mimito Arias beat him in 2013, Roux immediately said that he would support the ticket. After winning the 2019 nomination Roux called for party unity, but Mulino, who like Arias has been in and out of jail on various unresolved corruption charges, said that he would never support Roux.

Investigations about Martinelli time peculations have been slow getting to Roux, who has not yet spent any time in jail and now has candidate’s immunity. But prosecutors have asked the Electoral Tribunal to lift that immunity so that they can investigate Roux’s roles in Odebrecht contracts and other suspect matters.

The gross numbers of party adherents tend to have much to do with the largess of whoever gets elected and the opportunism of public functionaries, many of the latter switching parties with changes of administration to curry favor or avoid retaliation. Such is Panama’s five-year political cycle.

But in 2013 CD had some 476,000 members and a primary turnout of about 40%. Now it’s just under 340,000 party members, of whom well under 30% turned out for the Sunday primary.

CD founder and erstwhile owner Ricardo Martinelli’s courtroom and jailhouse antics and Twitter declarations are wild cards that the smart money says will work to Roux’s disavantage. Thus the “New Change.” But maybe it’s not so urgent for Roux to have new coin designs ready to send to the mint.

Were it not for the generalized corruption affecting all parties, the voters’ historic reticence to give any party back-to-back terms in the presidency and the chaotic state of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, Roux might be summarily written off. But the PRD has 18 candidates, maybe two or three of them serious, in its upcoming presidential primary. But like Roux, the likely Panameñista nominee José Isabel Blandón has Odebrecht baggage to carry. But the Electoral Tribunal is at its most flagrantly offensive in its corny maneuvers to exclude from the ballot any independent who would stand for anything different. So we shall see what Roux has won. At the moment it looks like a booby prize.


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