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HomeTopicsLatin AmericaJosé Raúl Mulino Leads Panama's Presidential Race, Replacing Disqualified Martinelli

José Raúl Mulino Leads Panama’s Presidential Race, Replacing Disqualified Martinelli

Opposition candidate José Raúl Mulino, who replaced the disqualified former president Ricardo Martinelli as the presidential candidate, leads the voting intention in Panama less than two months before the general elections, according to a survey published this Tuesday.

26% of those surveyed said they would vote for Mulino in the May 5 elections, 16 points more than his immediate followers, according to the survey by the company Mercado Planificado, published by the newspaper La Prensa.

He is followed in voting intention by the also opposition candidates Ricardo Lombana and former president Martín Torrijos (2004-2009), both with 10.8%, and lawyer Rómulo Roux with 10.2%, according to the study, which showed that there are almost 20% of undecided voters.

The social-democratic ruling party candidate José Gabriel Carrizo appears in sixth place among the eight candidates, with 6.5% in voting intention, below the populist deputy Zulay Rodríguez, with 6.7%. In Panama, presidential elections are held in a single round and are won by a simple majority. The term is five years.

Mulino was Martinelli’s vice-presidential candidate. The former president, who was the favorite in the polls, is currently in asylum at the Nicaraguan embassy after being sentenced to almost eleven years in prison for money laundering and being politically disqualified. From the embassy, Martinelli has called for voting for Mulino through social networks.

Mulino was Martinelli’s Minister of Security (2009-2014) and was in preventive detention between 2015 and 2016 for alleged corruption, but the Supreme Court annulled the case due to procedural errors.

A 64-year-old lawyer, Mulino was one of the leaders of the so-called Civilist Crusade that opposed the dictatorship of General Manuel Antonio Noriega (1983-1989).

After the U.S. invasion that overthrew Noriega in 1989, Mulino was foreign minister for President Guillermo Endara (1989-1994). The survey was conducted between February 27 and March 4, with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of 2.83%, according to La Prensa.

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