Polo Ciudadano, What to do about Panama’s next elections?

Victoriano Lorenzo
The manipulation of divisions among the progressive forces was the death of Liberal guerrilla general Victoriano Lorenzo and has dogged those who look fondly upon his legacy all throughout the history of the Republic of Panama.

The challenges of the 2024 elections
for the Panamanian popular movement

by Polo Ciudadano

A new electoral process is precipitated in the Republic of Panama, with more peremptory times in a rather undemocratic Electoral Code. The reforms imposed by the National Assembly through Law 247, of October 22, 2021, establish in its article 330, that the Electoral Tribunal will open the electoral process on June 1, 2022 – two years before the elections — for candidates by free candidacy, and February 1, 2023 for political parties (“of the previous year”).

Those who aspire to a position of popular election (president, legislator, representante or mayor) by free candidacy must register with an application between June 1 and July 31, 2022 (art. 360). Any political party that aspires to run, must be registered by February 1, 2023, obviously complying with having collected 2% of adherents with respect to the voters of the year 2019.

Understanding that under an undemocratic and corrupt political regime, such as the Panamanian one, controlled by the bourgeoisie and its parties through political patronage practices, the participation of the popular movement and the left is a tactical matter. That is, the modality of participation is something that must be decided according to the circumstances: registration of parties, free candidacy, null or blank vote, abstention, etc.

In the last two electoral processes, 2014 and 2019, on the basis that it is always preferable to nominate one’s own candidates as a privileged tactic, two were used: free candidacy (misnamed “independents”) and the registration of a party (the FAD).

On this occasion, as the times are shortened, the Panamanian popular movement has a dilemma: register candidacies of free candidacy, which forces decisions to be made in less than a month, or bet on the registration of the FAD that has half a year to register. On the contrary, not registering one’s own candidacies, by either of the two methods, would lead to a regression to situations prior to 2009 (blank vote or for “Victoriano Lorenzo”).

A sector of middle class, supported by a part of the bourgeoisie and its media, headed by Deputy Juan Diego Vásquez, has organized a “coalition” of independent candidacies under his leadership (which does not include a presidential candidacy), which is clearly financed by sectors linked to the economic power to which he responds, but who hide under the garb of “independence.”

Polo Ciudadano believes that the coalition of Deputy Vásquez is part of the electoral menu of the Panamanian bourgeoisie. It is a candidacy of the system that focuses its denunciation only on the issue of corruption, but does not question the neoliberal model.

Polo Ciudadano proposes the establishment of a popular coalition, with an anti-neoliberal, popular and program that’s independentof the bourgeoisie. A coalition that, with unity, will be able to overcome the anti-democratic obstacles of the Electoral Code by eliminating the dispersion in which we find ourselves. On that unitary basis, we can decide what kind of electoral tactic we will unite to support.



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