Panama’s double jeopardy scenario

Boss Martinelli and Buffalo Galvez

It’s a frightening thought that Panama’s electoral system which enables nonperforming lawmakers to feed at the public trough for decades also supports what could be labeled “double jeopardy” for the citizenry.

The latest revelation shows that nothing prevents ex-president Ricardo Martinelli  the deputy Sergio Chello Gálvez from running for deputies for Cambio Democrático (CD) and, at the same time, running for another position as  “free” or “independent.” A thin line between the terms free and independent clears the way.

Electoral Tribunal (TE) magistrate Alfredo Juncá explained that in Panama there has been a “small distortion” of the term.

There is no “independent” term, but there  is “free” application.”They are candidates or free application, not independent candidates. The independent character is given by the pre-candidate based on his programmatic work platform. If there is a person running for the free nomination, but who has links with a political party, it is perfectly legal, “he told La Prensa. Figure that out and join Mensa.

His colleague Eduardo Valdés Escoffery supports the thesis: “there is no philosophical or substantive contradiction because in Panama our system is one of free application, not independent.”

Gálvez aspires to be re-elected as a member of the circuit 8-7 through CD, and will also seek to be a representative of the Chorrillo corregimiento as a free candidate. He also intends to run for Deputy Mayor of  Martinelli, who will seek signatures to obtain the candidacy for the City Hall post for free application. The ex-president is already a CD  precandidate for deputy of the circuit 8-8.

Gálvez, who likes to boast of being a “sexual buffalo” has notoriously spent scores of thousands of government funds bribing his Chorrillo constituents with Christmas hams while he hops from one party to another.

“Boss “Martinelli’s record needs no introduction appears to have forgotten that he is no longer at the helm and from his virtual presidential palace in El Renacer prison continues to harass opponents, not with wiretaps but multi-million dollar criminal lawsuits.

Could Panama voters be so off-kilter as to elect the pair to office, or is it finally an opportunity to publicly disown both “CD/independents”?

The position of the TE magistrates opened a debate among connoisseurs of the electoral law.

Former TE Magistrate Denis Allen, for example, mentioned several things. First, he assured that free application and independent, “in the end, is almost the same.” “Until now it had been understood on the basis that if they were independent, it is because they were not from a party. Which is what we understand in common sense, “he said.

He also warned that accepting the two figures [nomination by a party and by free nomination] creates advantages for people who have a partisan platform and, at the same time, resources and forces to go independently.

“The real independents are going to be against the wall, or they will see a wall against them because they will face quasi-independents who have a machine behind them,” he said.