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The final countdown to the elections
With less than nine days left until the general elections take place in Panama, the Electoral Tribunal decided to suspend all political propaganda from airing on all mass communication media to allow the public to reflect and make a decision about whom they will for vote on Sunday, May 4.
Over the last two weeks the main presidential candidates, José Domingo Arias from the ruling party Cambio Democrático, Juan Carlos Navarro of Partido Revolucionario Democratico and Juan Carlos Varela of the Panameñista Party have gone to different religious services, kissed children and old ladies and looked very concerned when possible voters told them their problems.
However, the presidential debates have had a big influence on the minds of many Panamanians who are still undecided. According to the recent popularity poll of Dichter and Neira, only 6% separates the actual leader, Arias, from the one with the least number, Navarro. This means that the election results are going to be very close.
Studying poll results from previous elections, it has been consistently shown that the candidate who sits in the middle of the polls wins. However, since each company that carries out surveys gives different results, it is impossible to predict the winner.
Erasmo Pinilla, president of the Electoral Tribunal, is hinting that the ruling party is planning to commit electoral fraud in favor of its candidate, Arias. It is important to point out that an unknown individual said that Pinilla did not have a law degree and therefore was not qualified to be the head of this institution.
Pinilla soon produced his diploma on national television to silence those who wanted to discredit him, after the Organization of American States (OAS) said that it will send observers to make sure the elections are clean. The United States through its ambassador in Panama, Jonathan Farrar, stated that the Electoral Tribunal is strong enough to prevent fraud.
The Catholic Church through its spokesman, Monsignor José Domingo Ulloa, is playing the role of referee between Arias, Navarro and Varela, pleading with them to stop their smear campaigns. They signed an ethical pact, but it was a complete waste of time.
Cambio Democratico representatives accused Navarro of having his campaign funded by a Mexican drug cartel and the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, and Varela of receiving financial support from a money laundry operation in the United States.
The Panameñistas quickly retaliated, showing checks made by the notorious pyramid fraudster, David Murcia, to Ricamar, the current president Ricardo Martinelli’s company, when he was running as a candidate. As usual, Arias kept quiet and left others to do the talking.
Things should quiet down over the next few days as the political propaganda disappears from radio, television and newspapers for the next week. It is a pity that the candidates are not made to put down their posters and banners until the elections have past. Never mind, in nine days Panama will have a new president and everything will go back to normal.
José Domingo Arias 36%
Juan Carlos Varela 31%
Juan Carlos Navarro 30%