Sunday’s presidential election in Panama will be remembered as one of the most dramatic in the country’s recent history. Although polls anticipated a comfortable triumph for Laurentino (Nito) Cortizo, from the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), the outcome was narrower than originally expected. With 95.3 percent of ballots counted, Cortizo was elected president with 33.19 percent of votes. Rómulo Roux, from the fellow opposition Democratic Change party (CD), landed closely behind in second place with 31.03 percent. A difference of fewer than 50,000 votes gave Cortizo the presidency. With a voter turnout of 73 percent, the close margin sheds light on the electoral preferences of Panamanians as the country faces increasing problems associated with inequality and corruption—and the challenges that lay ahead for the new president.
Laurentino Cortizo, 66, will be the next resident of the Palacio de las Garzas. An experienced politician, Nito, who in the