Listen this article
By a small margin of difference, the Social Democratic opposition candidate won the elections with 33.08% compared to 31.06% of his competitor, Rómulo Roux
On Sunday, May 5, it was declared that Laurentino 'Nito' Cortizo, candidate of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), won the elections in Panama. Winner, yes, but by very little, since the 33, 08% of the votes obtained was followed by 31.06% of its main competitor, Rómulo Roux, of the Democratic Change party. In real numbers, it was a difference of less than 40,000 votes, according to the Electoral Tribunal.
Faced with the joy of Cortizo, who declared that "with humility I receive the announcement, an announcement that is important for the country, an announcement of great responsibility where I am prepared with a team to assume the reins of the country," according to Infobae, is the dissatisfaction of Roux and his affirmations on Twitter.
On the one hand, he affirmed that he was going to review all the voting records of the country and, until he had done that, he would not recognize the results. On the other hand, criticized the advance announcement of the winner because of the "irregularities of this election."
Vamos a revisar todas las candidaturas de @CaDemocratico a nivel nacional. Tenemos que recibir todas las actas, haremos público ese ejercicio y, con base en eso, vamos a reconocer los resultados de la elección. #RómuloPresidente— Rómulo Roux (@romuloroux) May 6, 2019
Me he comunicado con el @tepanama para advertirles de las irregularidades de esta elección. No se puede hacer una declaración irresponsable con base en los números no oficiales del TER. #RómuloPresidente— Rómulo Roux (@romuloroux) May 6, 2019
The big surprise was the 20% of votes obtained by the independent candidate Ricardo Lombana, lawyer, and journalist. Faced with this, he declared himself enthusiastic and affirmed: "We will follow the road towards 2024 (...) in 2024 we will return, we will return!". According to statements made by El País, this candidate, supported by figures such as the singer Rubén Bladez, began to fragment with the votes obtained the classic attitude of the elections in favor of the traditional parties, which can give a new direction in the coming years.
Also, the ex-president Ricardo Martinelli (2009 - 2014), arrested in jail on charges of espionage to the opposition and who supported Roux, congratulated Cortizo despite the statements of his favorite:
Quiero felicitar a Nito y al PRD por su victoria extraoficial. Tienen una gran responsabilidad de volver a unir a los panameños y sacarnos del hueco que nos metió Varela. Que Dios nos bendiga a Todos!— Ricardo Martinelli (@rmartinelli) May 6, 2019
You may be interested in reading: Elections in Panama: these are the presidential candidates
Who is 'Nito'?
Of Spanish and Greek roots, Laurentino Cortizo, 66 years old, studied in the United States and worked there with the OAS until 1985. That year, he returned to Panama to work as manager of Panablock and Hacienda Hermacor companies.
Later, according to his official website, he began his political career in 1994 as a deputy of Circuit 3-2 (Coasts and Mountains of Colón) and then served as president of the Legislative Assembly in 2001. His most recognized position has been as Minister of Development Farming in 2004, under the presidency of Martín Torrijos. To this post, he resigned 15 months after showing his disagreement with the sanitary norms imposed by the FTA with the United States.
He identifies himself as passionate about the high cattle ranch and lover of football, in addition to constantly mentioning the family. For this reason, it seems that the public image that seeks to give is that of the father concerned about the children of his country.
First promises and challenges
Beyond the typical promises of improving health and education, reactivating the economy and fighting poverty, Cortizo has turned the eradication of corruption into a personal brand. As he stated in his victory speech, "relaxation is over! Public funds belong to the people and are sacred. (...) I will defend the interests of Panama and make them respect. Rest assured that Nito Cortizo is not going to do the errands to anyone. (...) It is not to come to power to steal or to pay favors to economic or political groups, to anyone. In Panama there will be no untouchables, even if they are ministers or big businessmen, neither deputies nor the president. We're going to do without stealing."
With this statement, 'Nito' determined what his attitude would be towards Panamanian corruption, which became globally recognized by the case of the Panama Papers, leaked by an anonymous source to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Added to the damage to the international image that caused this scandal, it is the Odebrecht acpetación of payments of USD 59 million in bribes between 2010 and 2014, as The Guardian stated.
Thus, Cortizo said that "we have great challenges ahead and joining forces we will face them. An educational system in values aligned with market demands. Reforms to the constitution. An independent justice system (...) A law on public procurement that eliminates the discretion to combat corruption." With this, he gave a clue how he was achieving his goal of fighting corruption.
LatinAmerican Post | Juan Gabriel Bocanegra
Translated from "Voy a defender los intereses de Panamá y hacerlos respetar", Laurentino Cortizo"