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Panama

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Politics and government of
Panama



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Politics of Panama takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Panama is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The branches are according to Panama's Political Constitution of 1972, reformed by the Actos Reformatorios of 1978, and by the Acto Constitucional in 1983. , united in cooperation and limited through the classic system of checks and balances. Three independent organizations with clearly defined responsibilities are found in the Political Constitution. Thus, the Comptroller General of the Republic has the responsibility to manage public funds. There also exists the Electoral Tribunal, which has the responsibility to guarantee liberty, transparency, and the efficacy of the popular vote; and, finally, the Ministry of the Public exists to oversee interests of State and of the municipalities.

Contents

Executive branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Ricardo Martinelli Democratic Change 1 July 2009
Vice President Juan Carlos Varela Panameñista Party 1 July 2009

The Executive Branch includes a president plus one vice president. The president and the vice-president are elected on a single ballot for one non-renewable five-year term by direct popular vote.

State Ministers

  • Minister of Presidency: Demetrio Papadimitriu
  • Minister of Government and Justice: José Raúl Mulino
  • Minister of Foreign Relations: Juan Carlos Varela
  • Minister of Public Works: Federico José Suárez
  • Minister of Health: Franklin Vergara
  • Minister of Work and Labor Development: Alma Lorena Cortés Aguilar
  • Minister of Commerce and Industries : Roberto Henríquez
  • Minister of Housing: Carlos Alberto Duboy Sierra
  • Minister of Agriculture: Víctor Manuel Pérez Batista
  • Minister of Economy and Finance: Alberto Vallarino Clement
  • Minister of Social Development: Guillermo Antonio Ferrufino Benítez
  • Minister of Education: Lucinda Molinar
  • Minister of Panama Canal Affairs:Rómulo Roux
  • Minister of Tourism: Salomón Shamah Zuchin
  • Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises: Giselle de Calcagno

Legislative branch

The legislative branch consists of a unicameral National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional), composed of 71 members elected to five-year terms from single-seat and multi-seat constituencies.

Political parties and elections

e • d  Summary of the 3 May 2009 Panamanian presidential election results
Candidates Parties Votes %
Ricardo Martinelli Democratic Change, Patriotic Union Party, Panameñista Party, Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement 952,333 59.97
Balbina Herrera Democratic Revolutionary Party, People's Party, Liberal Party 597,227 37.70
Guillermo Endara Fatherland's Moral Vanguard Party 36,867 2.33
Valid votes (turnout 73.99%) 1,558,445 100.0
Blank votes 19,105 1.17
Invalid votes 30,976 1.89
Total votes 1,636,508 100.00
Source: Tribunal Electoral

Judicial branch

The Judicial Organ administers justice in a permanent, free, and expeditious manner. It comprises the Supreme Court of Justice, the Tribunals, and the judges established by law, according to the Political Constitution of the Republic of Panama (title VII, Chapter 1).

Electoral branch

An autonomous Electoral Tribunal supervises voter registration, the election process, and the activities of political parties. Everyone over the age of 18 is required to vote, although those who fail to do so are not penalized.

Some background

In Panamanian history, the dominant parties have been the PRD and the Panameñista (former Arnulfista Party). These parties were founded by very charismatic and strong political enemies, Omar Torrijos (PRD) - the (deceased) father of the previous president, Martín Torrijos - and Arnulfo Arias (Panameñista/Arnulfista) - late husband of the Ex president, Mireya Moscoso -. Even though these leaders died years ago, their "aura" is always revived by its followers, and they are present in every election.

Panamanian politics have been historically very corrupt. Lately, the Panamanian society and press have gotten tired of this and are auditing and fighting for improvements. A sign of this is the lack of young vote in the 22/10/06 Referendum, showing a lack of confidence in Panama Politics ways and Politicians.

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