Panama Presidential Elections Preview

World Today

More than 2 million Panamanians are registered to vote in Sunday’s presidential election-the closest race seen there in years. Seven candidates are on the ballot, but three of them are so close in recent polls that any of them could become the next leader of the Central American nation. CCTV’S Nitza Soledad Perez introduces the candidates.

Leading the polls but not by much is the ruling Democratic Change (CD) Party candidate Jose Domingo Arias. The 50 year old, former textile industry businessman was housing minister before being chosen by his party to run with Marta Linares de Martinelli, the wife of outgoing President Ricardo Martinelli, as his running mate.

Panama Presidential Elections Preview

Panama Presidential Elections Preview

More than 2 million Panamanians are registered to vote in Sunday's presidential election-the closest race seen there in years. Seven candidates are on the ballot, but three of them are so close in recent polls that any of them could become the next leader of the Central American nation. CCTV'S Nitza Soledad Perez introduces the candidates.

Arias’ close ties to the president have led many to say his candidacy is a facade for Martinelli, who has presided over strong economic growth fueled by infrastructure spending.

Right behind him, is the moderate leftist ex-Panama City mayor Juan Carlos Navarro of the Democratic Revolutionary Party.

And trailing third is current Vice President Juan Carlos Varela, of the Panama駃sta Party. Varela has promised to continue with projects started by the current government, but with more transparency.

While lauded for recent economic gains, the Martinelli government is also perceived by some Panamanian voters as corrupt.

Some of the main issues concerning the Panamanian electorate are public insecurity and the growing food prices, the basic food basket went up 20 dollars in one year.

Despite having the highest minimum wage in Latin America, the increased cost of living is being felt by the lower classes.

There are no sharp ideological differences among these three top contenders. So Panamanians will need to decide which one they feel will best support their needs