By María M. Mur
Panama has rounded up its election offer this week for May 5, a proposal that some analysts consider bland and "without attractive", while for others it is varied and consists of "trained" politicians.
The presidential candidates of the three major Panamanian parties, elected in primaries last year, held acts in recent days to present their respective formula mates in the upcoming elections.
The last to do so was the presidential candidate of the ruling and nationalist Partido Panameñista (PPA), José Blandón, who chose Nilda Quijano, an afrodescendant engineer affiliated with the opposition Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD), as vice president.
The weekend were Rómulo Roux, the candidate of the liberal Cambio Democrático (CD), that will concur with the journalist and activist Luis Casís, and Laurentino "Nito" Cortizo, the presidential bet of the PRD (social democrat), that will participate with the young lawyer José Gabriel Carrizo.
"It's a fairly complete offer, nobody can complain that there is not a tailor-made ballot", lawyer Ebrahim Asvat told Acan-Efe, for him any of the candidates "can do things right".
"Anyway, It’s not enough to have a president ready, you have to have a prepared structure. (Ronald) Reagan was a B-movie actor, and yet he ended up being a good president of the United States because of all the apparatus behind him", he added.
In the antipodes is the sociologist Marco Antonio Gandásegui, for whom the traditional parties have opted for candidates "with little vision of the country" and have presented "the worst offers since before the military coup of 1968", which ultimately rose to power to the charismatic Omar Torrijos.
"The presidential candidates are weak from the political point of view, they have no hook, but the selected vice presidents are worse. The candidates chose them in order to not be overshadowed", he told to Acan-Efe.
Cortizo is an old acquaintance of Panamanian politics, was deputy of the National Assembly in the 1990s and then Minister of Agricultural Development during the presidency of Martín Torrijos (2004-2009).
Blandón, meanwhile, was elected mayor of the capital in 2014 and left the post a few months ago to fight for the candidacy of his party, while Roux held various positions in the Government of Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), including Chancellor and Minister of Canal Affairs.
The constitutionalist Ernesto Cedeño explained that the presidential candidates sought, with the election of their seconds, to wink at different sectors of Panamanian society.
"Blandon looked for a person to help him erase his image as a vehement protector of a minority group (the Panamanian upper class). Nito bets on the young vote on the elections and Roux decided for a person who has community acceptance because of his social struggles", the analyst said.
Also recently presented their presidential formulas, the leader of the leftwing Frente Amplio por la Democracia (FAD), Saúl Méndez, and the three independents: the ex-general attorney Ana Matilde Gómez, the ex-deputy Marco Ameglio and the lawyer Ricardo Lombana, whose final candidacies will be formalized in the next days after resolving several claims of other candidates without a party.
The sociologist Danilo Toro considered that the electoral offer is so varied that it seems "a drugstore where there is everything" and said that it is still "too early" to determine who of the candidates will receive the protest vote, so decisive in the recent elections of El Salvador or Brazil.
"The Panamanian wants a government that redirects the economic situation and does not want to see so much corruption", he added.
The presidential elections of 2014 were won against all odds by the ruling Partido Panameñista, while the two political forces with more deputies in the Panamanian Parliament, of 71 seats, are the PRD (26) and the CD (24).