Don’t cry for me, Balbina
The voice of the people has been raised. Panama’s May 3 federal and municipal elections were an astounding success. Overall turnout was ...
The voice of the people has been raised. Panama’s May 3 federal and municipal elections were an astounding success. Overall turnout was 74 percent; in the province of Los Santos, Herrera, and Veraguas over 80 percent cast ballots. The 2008 United States and Canada elections only had 57 and 59 percent participation.
Panama citizens living outside of the country were mostly no-shows, however. Only 31 percent of the eligible voters bothered to cast their ballots.
NO MAS. The Ricardo Martinelli team did the right thing in limiting their televised debates with the PRD’s Balbina Herrera. Martinelli had done well with the first TV debate. No need for more.
MILLIONARE’S ROW. Cambio Democratico TV ads that PRD government members entered ‘clean’ and left ‘millionaires’ were impressively effective.
Panama City mayoralty candidate Miguel Antonio Bernal was wise not to attack his opponent Bosco Vallarino with a settled 15 year-old court case alleging domestic abuse.
A BEER’S ON THE HOUSE Balbina Herrera was smart in letting the cops, not her supporters, deal with the idiot who hit her with a full beer can.
ROOM FOR TWO. American Ambassador to Panama Barbara Stephenson, if not a ‘king-maker’, most definitely is a ‘president-maker’. She encouraged Democratic Change president Ricardo Martinelli and Panamenista president Juan Carlos Varela to meet privately in a small room at her official residence. The two met for several hours, a coalition was formed, and Martinelli found his vice-president.
WORKERS GOT BAD ADVICE. Panama’s unions asked workers to turn in blank ballots to show their disgust with all of the political parties. Don’t expect to see the Legislative Assembly pass any laws favorable to the union movement. Incidentally, in the United States and Canada political parties woo the union vote and tailor much of their laws and treaties to protect union jobs. Only immature, poorly-led unions disconnect their members from the political process.
HELICOPTER MAN. Justo Lasso, the MOLIRENA Diputado candidate for Arraijan, lost his election bid and the $8,400 he tossed from a helicopter flying over his city.
The PRD’s campaign to paint Martinelli as ‘crazy’ backfired. As did Balbina’s touting her experience in a government she later criticized as ‘not performing’.
PARTY PURGES. Watch for the resignation of the PRD’s National Executive Committee (CEN) nine-member Board with Juan Carlos Navarro the first to resign. Martin Torrijos and ‘Toro’ Balladares were forced to resign in 1999 when they lost. Now, Balladares wants the pink slips to fly again. Balbina says she’s staying put. The buzzards are circling.
BALBINA MELTDOWN. Election night, Madame Herrera refused to phone Martinelli and concede. Her logic was that the winner should phone the loser.
Next day, Balbina boasted that with 37.68 percent of the votes cast, Panama’s electorate voted for her as the “official opposition” (which election was that?).
BREAKFAST AT MANOLO’S. The following day Balbina crashed a breakfast at Manolo’s where many of her PRD operatives were assembled and allegedly screamed out “traitors”. And, one contact who was owed $40,000 for her printing work was allegedly told, “I won’t pay you until 2014”.
PREDICTION After alienating the electorate with her toxic Noriega baggage, arrogance, and campaign incompetence, Balbina is now alienating the majority of her own PRD Party.
Look for Balladares, Navarro, and Martin Torrijos to fight for the nomination in 2014. Balbina Herrera will be history.
GOODBYE YEYA. Former Panama president Mireya Moscoso has lost considerable prestige and power now that her political party is ‘owned’ by Juan Carlos Varela.
GET OUT THE VOTE. Miguel Antonio Bernal’s loss shows that it’s not enough to be smart, competent, and honest to be elected Panama City mayor. You also need an appealing program and personality.
MAB came off as stuffy and unspecific. Plus, he couldn’t get out his vote. His volunteers were fractious and woefully inexperienced.