An easy primary win for the VP — but fewer than one-third of his party’s nearly three-quarters of a million members showed up and cast their votes for him. Graphic from Benicio Robinson’s Twitter feed.
Brave faces, but the PRD is in trouble
by Eric Jackson
As boosters of the nation’s largest political party, the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), have pointed out, at nearly 60 percent of membership participation the presidential primary was their best-attended such event since 2004.
Who won the PRD primary in the 2004 general election cycle? That would be Martín Torrijos, who went on to win the presidency and led an administration that chalked up a record of incompetence and corruption that disrupted the old alternation – the PRD lost the next two presidential races. We’re supposed to forget the deadly toxic cough syrup. We’re supposed to forget the kids in the comarca who died of starvation plus trivial diseases. We’re supposed to forget the “school excellence” program that was looted by political gangsters in a San Miguelito led entourage. We’re supposed to forget a canal expansion referendum that featured heavy vote suppression, low turnout and a campaign of climate change denial and other deceits.
How resounding was Gaby Carrizo’s victory this time around? He got about 55 percent of the vote, an easy win in a crowded field. But the main runners-up did not come to embrace him. Crispiano Adames called it a campaign of harassment and blackmail. Pedro Miguel González has long lamented that democracy is dead in the PRD. And some 15 percent of those who showed up to vote cast spoiled ballots.
Much closer than the race in the party primary is the “race” between Gaby Carrizo and PRD deputy Zulay Rodríguez, who’s petitioning to run for president as an extreme right independent. Gaby got a little less than 200,000 primary votes, as compared to Zulay’s little more than 140,000 petition signatures. Still, Gaby’s people were saving their venom for Martín Torrijos, who will run on the small Partido Popular’s ticket this time.
The race for the presidential nomination was called rather early, but as midnight approached there were few results from the down-ticket primary races. Who got ousted by his or her own party members and who did not will also be telltale signs for political analysts.
So, a Ricardo Martinelli sweep next year? Let’s see if he gets through this month without a criminal conviction that would disqualify him from next year’s ballot. And if he leaps that hurdle, in a few months the Odebrecht graft and money laundering trial is coming, which also could knock him out of the race.
The alliances for next year ought to be interesting. Can you say “instability?” Or perhaps, can you say former diplomat Ricardo Lombana running up the middle against legislator Zulay Rodríguez way out on the right wing and University of Panama economist Maribel Gordón out there on the left wing, albeit without the extreme pronouncements coming from the right this time. But what would that do to all the “pay to play” legislators and city council members down the ticket? Would things stay the same due to name recognition down the ballot, or would “I know THAT guy” be the recipe for a massive rejection of incumbents?
Stay tuned. It’s a long way until next May.
Inta-Torrijista fisticuffs at the PRD primaries.
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