Mulino wins presidency though faces splintered Assembly

With 98% of the country’s ballot points counted, opposition candidate José Raúl Mulino (Realizando Metas – RM) secures the Presidency of Panama, clinching victory with 34.29% of all valid votes, surpassing seven other contenders. However, despite his win, preliminary projections for the legislature indicate that his party and its allies may fall short of a majority in the National Assembly, necessitating broad parliamentary agreements to advance his government’s agenda.

The election results reveal a deeply divided Assembly, with no single political force commanding a majority, leading to an unprecedented scenario where the largest minority bloc will be led by independents. Moreover, the extent of former president Ricardo Martinelli’s influence on the new government, led by RM’s Mulino, remains a pivotal factor in forging consensus. Following the victory, a key uncertainty arises regarding the selection of the vice-president for the new administration. Both the incoming president and the next Assembly are slated to assume office on July 1st.

Highlights of Election Day
As confirmed by the Electoral Tribunal and international observers, the elections proceeded smoothly and without incident. Marked by the highest voter turnout since the country’s return to democracy, surpassing 77.5%, these elections underscored a significant civic engagement. In his victory address, Mulino articulated plans for a “pro-private sector” administration and emphasized the imperative of forging a “government of national unity,” advocating for the cessation of political persecution, particularly in reference to Martinelli’s legal circumstances.

Presidential election results

Percentage of valid votes cast

As anticipated by the polls, Mulino prevailed over runner-up Ricardo Lombana by a 10% margin. As the Realizando Metas candidate, Mulino clinched the presidency by garnering the highest share of valid votes at 34.29%. Noteworthy is Lombana’s surge compared with 2019, juxtaposed with Rómulo Roux’s decline. Meanwhile, the ruling party, the PRD, witnessed its poorest electoral outcome in history, garnering barely 6% of the votes.

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