Daily Archives: May 6, 2009

Panama 2009

Panama held a general election on May 3, 2009. The President of Panama, as well as Panama’s legislatures, local councils, and MPs to the Central American Parliament were up for election.

Ricardo Martinelli, the candidate of the right-wing Democratic Change (CD) has bucked the left-wing trend in South and Central America by defeating the candidate of the incumbent left-wing (Democratic Revolutionary Party, PRD) government, Balbina Herrera. The PRD; whose candidate Martín Torrijos, the son of Panamanian military dictator Omar Torrijos, won the 2004 election; has been hurt by the global economic crisis and a still-high criminality rate. Martinelli, a wealthy businessman and owner of a successful supermarket chain in Panama, exploited popular discontent and rode to victory on the back of support from Panama’s least well-off. His candidacy was supported by his party, but also the Panameñista Party (PAN), and the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA). Balbina Herrera, a PRD cabinet minister, was originally anti-American, in fact she participated in anti-American protests following the US 1989 invasion which removed military dictator and drug dealer Manuel Noriega. She has downplayed these links to Noriega. Herrera was supported by the People’s Party (PP), a Christiandem party. Guillermo Endara, who was President between 1989 and 1994, also ran for his newly-formed Fatherland’s Moral Vanguard Party (VMP), formed by a split in the Panameñista Party.

Results for President:

Ricardo Martinelli (CD) 60.11%
Balbina Herrera (PRD) 37.54%
Guillermo Endara (VMP) 2.35%


Martinelli did best in Panama City, and probably the poor rural areas west of Panama City. His only defeats came from the comarcas of Panama, that is, provinces with a substantial native Amerindian population.

For the legislature:

PAN 24.58% winning 19 seats (+2)
CD 23.15% winning 12 seats (+9)
Patriotic Union 6.38% winning 4 seats (new)
MOLIRENA 3.44% winning 2 seats (-1)
Alliance for Change 57.54% winning 32 seats
PRD 34.68% winning 21 seats (-20)
PP 2.46% winning 1 seat (±0)
Liberal 0.94%
A Country for All 38.07% winning 22 seats
VMP 1.74% winning 1 seat (new)
Independents 2.65% winning 2 seats

Ecuador 2009

Ecuador held an early presidential and parliamentary election on April 25 (coverage is so late because the electoral commish took their sweet time to count). This is the first since the adoption of the new constitution in 2008. Elected in 2006, Rafael Correa, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is technically running for his first term under the new constitution, which now has a two four-year term limit. Voters also elected a new National Congress of 100 members.

Correa, the candidate of his left-wing PAIS Movement was opposed by Lucio Gutiérrez, a former President who led neo-liberal policies despite being elected (in 2002) on a anti-neoliberal agenda; and Álvaro Noboa, a right-wing banana tycoon and the richest man in Ecuador. Noboa was defeated in 2002 by Gutiérrez  and in 2006 by Correa.

Results for President:

Rafael Correa (PAIS) 51.94%
Lucio Gutiérrez (Patriotic Society Party) 28.24%
Álvaro Noboa (PRIAN) 11.44%
Martha Roldós Bucaram 4.34%
Carlos Sagñay de la Bastida 1.57%
Melba Jácome 1.35%
Diega Jara 0.63%
Carlos Albornoz 0.49%


Correa dominated in his historical strongholds in the south of the country, but he also won the coastal areas won by Noboa in the 2006 runoff. However, he lost the sparsely populated indigenous Amazonian provinces (which he had won in 2006) to Gutiérrez, who has a strong base with indigenous Ecuadorians. Napo Province, the only province to vote against the new constitution in 2008, was Gutiérrez’s best province.

Conveniently, the electoral commish’s site is down, as always, so I don’t have results for the legislative election. Anyways, the PAIS Movement does not seem to have an overall majority (45% of the vote, though it might end up giving a 50+1% majority when seats are allocated). I think Gutiérrez’s Patriotic Society (PSP) got a distant second with Noboa’s right-wing populist PRIAN in third (I think it was 11% or s0). More on this when the electoral commish is competent.