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  • President-elect Laurentino Cortizo of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) attends an electoral campaign closing rally in Panama City.

    President-elect Laurentino Cortizo of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) attends an electoral campaign closing rally in Panama City. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 May 2019

The newly elected head of state, from the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) - created in 1979 by Omar Torrijos -, will lead the Central American nation until 2024.

In a close presidential race between right-wing Romulo Roux and center-left Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo, the latter has won by 33,01 percent of votes against 31,08 in Sunday’s Panamanian general elections, in what seems an irreversible trend with 91 percent of votes counted according to the Panamanian Electoral Council.

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Despite the figures, Roux has issued a statement via Twitter saying his party does not recognize the results and will ask the electoral body for a recount based on alleged “irregularities and challenges” to certain electoral records.

The newly elected head of state, from the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) - created in 1979 by Omar Torrijos -, will lead the Central American nation for the 2019-2024 term. The 65-year-old former agricultural minister largely focused his campaign on promises to end government corruption and combat inequality.

Also pledged to establish a new office called ProPanama within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which would work with embassies, consulates, and foreign investors to restore confidence in the country in the aftermath of corruption scandals, such as the Panama Papers and Odebrecht. The corruption scandals have resulted in a highly doubtful electorate that refrained to vote once again for the ruling party, which came in fourth place.

However, Panamanian political analyst, Richard Morales told teleSUR that all candidates, except left-wing Saul Mendez (0.6 percent of votes), abstained from covering issues that affect working-class citizens such as precarious labor conditions, a crisis in the social security system and an unequal concentration of wealth in an elite minority.

Cortizo has said will review his country's stance with respect to Venezuela, especially the positions adopted within the Group of Lima, including the recognition of Juan Guaido as interim president, will be under the scope.

The PRD candidate won with about 608,000 of the 2.7 million valid votes cast on Sunday, in which Panamians also chose National Assembly legislators, members for the Central American Parliament, city mayors, and local authorities. 

Of the 71 seats for the National Assembly, Cortizo's coalition between center-left  PRD (28) and the center-right Liberal Nationalist Republican Movement (2) won 30 seats, followed by right-wing Roux's coalition between Democratic Change (17) and Alliance Party (0) with 17 seats, the center-right coalition of the Panamanian Party (7) and Popular Party (0) got 7 seats, and the last four were obtained by non-affiliated independent lawmakers. 

The composition of the legislative body of Panama will be mostly in its entirety of right-wing tendencies, which will mark the country’s politics for the next five years. 

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