Representing the Realizando Metas party, Mulino replaced former president Ricardo Martinelli, sentenced to 11 years in prison

Right-wing opposition candidate José Raul Mulino, 64, from the Realizando Metas party, won Panama’s presidential elections on Sunday (May 5, 2023). With 97% of the ballots counted, Mulino appears with 34.35% of the valid votes. In total, 8 candidates were in the race. The 2nd place in the dispute, Ricardo Lombana, from MOCA (Movement Another Path), has 24.87%

The result of this Sunday’s election (May 5) is definitive, as Panama’s electoral rules do not require a second round. The current president, Laurentino Cortizo, took office with an advantage of just 2 percentage points in the last elections, held in 2019.

Of the 8 names in the election, Mulino had shown an advantage in the polls, with around 30% of voting intentions. He entered the race to replace former president Ricardo Martinelli after Panama’s electoral authorities ruled him ineligible because of an 11-year prison sentence for money laundering.

Panama’s constitution prohibits anyone convicted of a crime to 5 or more years in prison from running for president.

Since assuming leadership of the ticket, Mulino has not participated in any presidential debate and still does not have a vice president, an issue that still awaits a ruling from the Court, but without a defined deadline.

Who is José Raul Mulino

José Raul Mulino has a degree in Law and Political Science from the Universidad Santa María la Antigua in Panama, having also obtained a master’s degree in Maritime Law from Tulane University, in New Orleans.

During Martinelli’s government (2009-2014), he held the positions of Minister of Security and Government and Justice. In 2015, he was preventively arrested on charges of alleged crimes against public administration, but the case was later annulled due to procedural errors.

Mulino ran as Martinelli’s vice president in these elections until the Electoral Court disqualified the former president on March 4.

At the proposal of Mulino visa “put more money in the pockets of Panamanians” through infrastructure projects designed to boost job creation in the country. The president-elect also plans to reduce migration through the Darién jungle in Panama.

Other candidates

In the vote on Sunday (May 5), former president Martín Torrijos, from the Popular Party, the current vice-president, José Gabriel Carrizo, from the Democratic Revolutionary Party, and the former secretary of Foreign Affairs, Rómulo Roux, also competed. by Democratic Change.

Furthermore, 2 independent candidates – national deputy Zulay Rodríguez and lawyer Ricardo Lombana – participated in the election.

The 59-year-old lawyer ran for the position for the second time. Until February of this year, he was a partner at the law firm Morgan & Morgan. In his campaign, he emphasized the development of tourism, while pledging to create 500,000 jobs if elected.

Son of former general Omar Torrijos, he focused his administration on the Panama Canal during his first presidential term (2004-2009). He also negotiated Panama’s first free trade agreement with the United States.

He promised to expand the canal’s operations and invest US$19 billion in 40 infrastructure projects, creating 165,000 jobs.

The current vice president of Panama, aged 40, was seeking a second term for his party, the Democratic Revolution, as consecutive re-election is not allowed in the country. Carrizo promised to reduce working hours and increase wages for Panamanians as part of his election platform.


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