Skip to main content
Menu Menu Close
Africa
Americas
Asia and the Pacific
Europe
Western Asia
Flag

Panama

https://www.idea.int/democracytracker/

May 2024

José Raúl Mulino is elected President
Election flag

On 5 May, Panama held elections to choose its president, members of the National Assembly, members of the Central American Parliament, mayors and other local leaders. José Raúl Mulino was elected president with the support of 34.3 per cent of voters, nearly ten percentage points ahead of second place Ricardo Lombana. Former president Martin Torrijos came in third place, while the ruling Revolutionary Democratic party (Partido Revolucionario Democrático) candidate only attained around 5.8 per cent of votes. Mulino entered the race as the candidate for the Achieving Goals (Realizando Metas) opposition party after the original candidate, former President Martinelli, was deemed ineligible for having been convicted for money laundering. Just days before the election, the Supreme Court confirmed that Mulino could run for president, denying a challenge to his eligibility for not having participated in his party’s primary process.
In Congress, independent candidates earned enough seats to become the largest group in the Legislature. According to preliminary results, 15 women were elected to the National Assembly out of 71 members (one less than in the previous legislature). Voting is mandatory but not enforced in Panama, and electoral participation was around 78 per cent (up five percentage points compared to 2019).

Sources: El Pais, Organization of American States, EFEThe Guardian 

March 2024

Electoral Tribunal confirms ineligibility of former president
Watch flag

The Electoral Tribunal confirmed the ineligibility of former president Ricardo Martinelli to run in the upcoming presidential election, given his criminal conviction for money laundering, ratified last month by the Supreme Court. Martinelli, who is currently seeking asylum in the Nicaraguan embassy, had appealed his ineligibility after the Tribunal first decided on the matter in early March. The Tribunal further determined that Jose Raul Mulino, who was Martinelli’s running mate, can hold the presidential candidacy for the Realizando Metas (RM) and Alianza alliance. The Tribunal determined Mulino will appear on the ballot without a running mate, a decision criticised by some analysts as a restrictive interpretation of the law. 

Further, a lawyer filed a constitutional appeal before the Supreme Court against Mulino taking over the presidential candidacy for RM and Alianza, in which it is argued that because Mulino did not participate in a primary as a presidential candidate, it contravenes party rules and the constitution. 

Sources: EcoTV Panama, Destino Panama, Metro Libre, International IDEA 

February 2024

Former President Martinelli sentenced to 10 years for money laundering

The Supreme Court confirmed former President Ricardo Martinelli’s conviction for money laundering as well as his 10.5-year sentence.  The Court’s ruling results in Martinelli’s ineligibility to run in Panama’s upcoming presidential elections, given that the sentence imposes more than five years imprisonment. Martinelli had won the primaries of his political party, Realizando Metas, last June. The ruling comes days before electoral campaigns officially commenced and is related to Martinelli’s involvement in corruption schemes for which he had been arrested years prior in the United States and subsequently extradited. He is the first former president of Panama to be convicted for money laundering.  

Sources: La Prensa Panamá, France 24 

November 2023

Supreme Court strikes down controversial mining contract

Following more than a month of mass protests and criticism over its approval process, the Supreme Court declared the unconstitutionality of Law 406, which granted Canadian company First Quantum Minerals a 20-year concession to extract copper from a biodiverse, protected area. Among other issues, the Court found that the contract violated 25 articles of Panama’s constitution, including the constitutional protection to human rights such as the right to life, health, and to a safe and healthy environment free from pollution. As a result, Minera Panama — Central America's largest open-pit copper mine, will be closed.

Environmental activists, teachers, union leaders and Indigenous Peoples had joined massive protests blocking main highways and port access to the mine.  

Critics argued the contract would negatively impact the environment and access to water for communities, and strongly opposed the lack of public consultation around the bill.

President Laurentino Cortizo said his government would abide by the ruling, while the Canadian company expressed it would seek arbitration, defending the contract’s validity and benefits, including cash inflow and thousands of jobs.

Sources: El Pais, Panama America, La Prensa, La Estrella de Panamá

See all event reports for this country

GSoD Indices Data 2014-2023

Chevron

Basic Information

Chevron
Population Tooltip
4 408 581
System of government
Presidential system
Head of government
President Laurentino Cortizo (since 2019)
Head of government party
Democratic Revolutionary Party
Electoral system for lower or single chamber
First Past the Post, List Proportional Representation
Women in lower or single chamber
22.5%
Women in upper chamber
Not applicable
Last legislative election
2019
Effective number of political parties Tooltip
5.68
Head of state
President Laurentino Cortizo
Selection process for head of state
Direct election (plurality)
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) date
03/11/2020
Latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) percentage of recommendations supported
80.66%
Tooltip text

Human Rights Treaties

Chevron
State Party State party
Signatory Signatory
No Action No action
United Nations Human Right Treaties
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
State Party
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
State Party
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
State Party
Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
State Party
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
State Party
Convention on the Rights of the Child
State Party
International Convention on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
No Action
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 
State Party
International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
State Party
International Labour Organisation Treaties
Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
State Party
Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
State Party
Equal Remuneration Convention
State Party
Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
State Party
Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
State Party
Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment
State Party
Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention
State Party
Regional Treaties
American Convention on Human Rights
State Party
Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
State Party
in
Tooltip text

Performance by category over the last 6 months

Representation neutral Representation
Dec 2023
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May 2024
Representation neutral Rights
Dec 2023
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May 2024
Representation neutral Rule of law
Dec 2023
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May 2024
Representation neutral Participation
Dec 2023
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May 2024

Global State of Democracy Indices

Hover over the trend lines to see the exact data points across the years

Explore the indices
Representation
Representation
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rights
Rights
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Rule of Law
Rule of Law
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4
Participation
Participation
0
/1
high 0.7-1.0
mid 0.4-0.7
low 0.0-0.4

Factors of Democratic Performance Over Time

Use the slider below to see how democratic performance has changed over time

0 10