Powerful Interests in Panama Prepare to Blunt the New President’s Anti-Graft Drive

Powerful Interests in Panama Prepare to Blunt the New President’s Anti-Graft Drive
Panama’s president-elect, Laurentino Cortizo, waves to supporters in Panama City, May 6, 2019 (AP photo by Arnulfo Franco).

Laurentino Cortizo, a veteran politician and former agriculture minister, narrowly won Panama’s presidential election earlier this month. Cortizo had focused his campaign on cleaning up the Central American nation’s image after a series of high-profile corruption scandals. But given the entrenched patronage networks and weak institutions of accountability in Panama, he will have a hard time following through on that promise, says Orlando J. Pérez, an expert on Latin American politics at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. In an email interview with WPR, he discusses the election results and what to expect from the new administration.

World Politics Review: How did Cortizo prevail in the presidential election, and how will his slim margin of victory affect his ability to get things done as president?

Orlando J. Pérez: Cortizo was able to mobilize base voters from his Democratic Revolutionary Party, or PRD, which normally comprises about a third of the electorate. In a fragmented field of candidates, a plurality of 33 percent was enough to win, as Panama’s electoral system does not allow for a runoff vote.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.