Temas Especiales

28 de Jan de 2021


Political parties woo Bernal

PANAMA. Miguel Antonio Bernal is running again for Panama City’s mayor’s office as an independent.

PANAMA. Miguel Antonio Bernal is running again for Panama City’s mayor’s office as an independent.

His path hasn’t been easy: he repeatedly complained because the Electoral Code makes it hard for independent to participate in elections. Now it seems he is getting all the support he needs, as small political parties fight to enrol his endorsement in order to get enough votes to secure their survival.

According to Bernal, independent candidates have to comply with a series of bureaucratic requirements, while members of political parties can immediately become pre-candidates, giving them an advantage.

He became an official candidate for the mayor’s office with the help of the Liberal Party, which nominated him even when he did not support the PRD’s presidential candidate, Balbina Herrera. The Liberals are aligned to PRD.

Now, it seems Union Patriotica and Molirena, have joined the Liberal Party’s club in wanting to name Bernal as their candidate because Bernal’s trajectory promises enough votes in the upcoming elections to keep any party that uses his name alive.

In 1999, Bernal ran as a candidate nominated by the Panameñista and the Molirena parties.

He won 101,000 votes, 11,000 more votes than then mayor Mayin Correa, who was seeking her re-election, and 8,000 less than winner Juan Carlos Navarro, Panama City’s current mayor and the PRD’s vice-president nominee for the May 2009 elections.

In 1999, Bernal got 34 percent of the votes, almost four times more than what polls said he would get. Today, polls show Bernal with a 12 percent support, but the small political parties known that his support, especially given what happened in 1999, is bigger, and everyone now wants to nominate him.

Political parties need 4 percent of the votes to subsist, in any of the races: for president, legislators, mayor, or representatives. The most convenient race for the party is chosen to measure the percentage, but no two races can be combined.

According to calculations, parties need around 83,000 votes to subsist, much less than what Bernal won in the 1999 elections.

The Liberal Party’s arrangement with Bernal is built upon “convenience,” say the political analysts, because while Bernal needs a vehicle with which to run, the Liberal Party could use Bernal’s votes to subsist as a party.

Union Patriotica and Molirena are in the same boat, wanting now to take a piece of the pie.