General elections took place in Panama yesterday. As predicted, the opposition swept to victory. The next president will be Ricardo Martinelli.
The BBC reports that he spent $35 milion on his campaign. Wonder how he plans to recoup the investment…
The only troubling aspect of the voting was the nervousness of the local people. Everyone I spoke to over the weekend said they would be voting and then going home to lock their doors. There were very few people on the streets yesterday, which surprised me. Even after the results were announced, there was little celebration here in Chiriqui (quite a few cars did take take to the streets in Panama City, though).
People were afraid that the losers would riot or that there would be some kind of fraud and the real winners would take to the streets. The reaction of the police would then depend on who the rioters were. School was suspended today in case there was trouble.
I find it disturbing that this kind of fear is still very real to ordinary Panamanians nearly 20 years after the American invasion and the overthrow of Noriega.
The Brookings Institute recently published this interesting overview of the political situation in Panama.