Panama: Juan Carlos Varela Defies Polls, Emerges as Victor in Presidential Race

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EspañolVice President Juan Carlos Varela, candidate for the the Panameñista and Popular parties coalition, is the declared victor of Sunday’s presidential election in Panama.

As of the Electoral Tribunal’s announcement last night, Varela garnered 39.2 percent of the votes, followed by José Domingo Arias with 32 percent and Juan Carlos Navarro with 27.4 percent. By then, 60 percent of the ballots had been counted, which indicated an insurmountable lead.

Varela, 50, currently serves as vice president. He came into office alongside President Ricardo Martinelli, on the Democratic Change party (CD) ticket. However, 16 months into the administration’s term, the two leaders broke off relations, and Varela ran against the incumbent party.

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The new president ran on a pro-business platform and in his speeches highlighted the need to improve living conditions of all Panamanians amidst substantial economic and financial growth of recent years.

“I long to see this country grow equally, fairly … an honest government working for the people and not people working for the political class,” said Varela.

During the campaign he promised to prioritize education, public health, and Panamanians’ purchasing power.

Varela chose Saint Malo de Alvarado as his running mate for vice president, a 45-year-old woman experienced in public policy but with no political background.

The election result came as a surprise to many, since in most surveys Varela had not come out on top.

Source: La Prensa, CNN En Español.

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