RTL Today – 8 candidates in the running: The main candidates vying to be Panama president

A former president from a prestigious family, a strong-willed political veteran, a rocker ex-consul and a tattooed ex-foreign minister are among the candidates competing to become Panama’s next president.

Here are profiles of the main contenders in Sunday’s single-round election, which will be decided by a simple majority.

Mulino: the substitute

Former security minister Jose Raul Mulino, 64, left his farm and horses with his sights set on becoming vice president under his former boss, ex-president Ricardo Martinelli.

But in March, Martinelli was disqualified from standing for president — a month after he lost his final bid to avoid prison for money laundering and took asylum in the Nicaraguan embassy.

Mulino stepped into his shoes, though he faced a legal challenge on the basis that he had not participated in a primary vote or picked a running mate, as required by law.

Panama’s Supreme Court approved his candidacy just two days before election day.

Mulino is the clear frontrunner with more than 30 percent of voter support, according to opinion polls.

The candidate of the right-wing Realizing Goals party — who also previously served as foreign minister and minister of justice — uses the slogan “Mulino is Martinelli.”

A lawyer by profession, Mulino has pledged to close the dangerous migration route through the Darien jungle between Colombia and Panama.

He was in preventive detention for alleged corruption in 2015-2016, but was released due to procedural errors.

Torrijos: the general’s son

Martin Torrijos, who was president from 2004-2009, is returning to the ring after a fight with the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party he once represented.

He accuses the movement founded by his father 45 years ago of corruption and abandoning social democratic ideals.

Seeking reelection “was a decision of conscience,” said the 60-year-old son of late General Omar Torrijos — the nationalist leader who signed the treaty with former US president Jimmy Carter that returned control of the Panama Canal to the Central American country .

As president, the Texas A&M University economics graduate and Real Madrid fan promoted the expansion of the interoceanic channel to generate jobs.

He has faced questions about contracts granted on his watch to Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company at the center of a huge bribery scandal, but denied any wrongdoing.

Torrijos is now running for the small Christian-democratic Popular Party.

Lombana: the anti-graft axman

Ricardo Lombana has spent years railing against corruption.

The 50-year-old, who is making his second presidential bid, has promised to limit the use of public funds and eliminate the privileges enjoyed by senior officials.

“The corruption should get ready because the party’s going to end,” he told AFP.

Lombana posed for photos with an ax as a symbol of his campaign pledges, drawing comparisons with the chainsaw wielded by Argentine President Javier Milei.

He signed up former officials and independents, especially young people and opponents of mining, to his center-right party, the Another Way Movement.

A lawyer and former consul general in Washington, the Chicago Cubs fan has promised to reduce the cost of electricity through the generation of solar energy.

The youngest candidate in the election, he combines politics with a passion for drums and is an admirer of Neil Peart — the late drummer and lyricist of Canadian rock group Rush.

Roux: the ally turned rival

Romulo Roux, who came second in the 2019 presidential election, served as foreign minister and minister in charge of the Panama Canal in Martinelli’s government.

But when the former president became bogged down in legal troubles, Roux managed to take control of Democratic Change, the center-right party founded by Martinelli in 1998.

The 59-year-old lawyer has teamed up with the right-wing Panamenista Party.

Roux has come under scrutiny for his ties to a law firm linked to a copper mine that sparked massive protests in late 2023.

With the birthdates of his seven children tattooed on one arm, he has promised to create 500,000 jobs and carry out anti-corruption reforms.

The Real Madrid fan and TikTok user is the candidate most open to the idea of ​​allowing civil unions for same-sex couples.