Sunday is Election Day in Panama

Sunday seems like a good day for elections, a day when many don’t have to work. Panama has compulsory voting for everyone over 18 but I don’t think it is strictly enforced. I know one of my neighbors doesn’t plan to vote “I don’t like any of them. They are all the same.” That sounds like a lot of people I know if the US.

It’s very interesting to watch the election process here in Panama. Candidates are out and about and making themselves as visible as possible. There are signs and banners and flags all over town. (One of my local friends told me that the candidates have to put up the money to take down all their stuff before they are even allowed to put it up, which sounds like a very good idea.)  People drive around with flags and signs on their cars, there are ads on TV, trucks drive around with loudspeakers, and there are rallies  small and large. There was a huge one in town last weekend with thousands of people, free lunch, t-shirts, hats, speeches, performances, and enough traffic to jam up the Pan-American highway.

This notice is also out from the Tribunal Electoral, the folks who manage the voting process.


Notice – Dry Law

The Tribunal Electoral makes public knowledge that from noon on Saturday the 3rd until noon on Monday the 5th of May, 2014, will close all the bars, saloons, centers of night fun (nightclubs), dance halls, and other places that sell alcoholic beverages and it is prohibited to sell, gift, transfer, use or consume.

The measure has the objective of granting a climate of peace and tranquility for the general elections of May 4th which is a civic holiday, and once again will be evidence of the political maturity of the Panamanians.

Excepted from this prohibition of consumption are foreigners in hotels where they are guests.

This was a surprise. We don’t do this in the US. Apparently if you are found drunk or drinking around town, you will be taken to the police station. This is probably a good weekend to be very well behaved, even for those of us who can’t vote.

There are three major contenders for president and candidates for many other offices as well. It will be interesting to see how this all comes out! I have some friends who aren’t very involved, and others who are totally passionate about their chosen candidates. I hope no one is too badly disappointed, and whoever wins will continue to lead Panama in its very positive direction.

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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16 Responses to Sunday is Election Day in Panama

  1. indacampo says:

    And tomorrow is Labor Day. Many of the stores and banks will be closed also. 🙂


    • Yep, so I hear. My neighbors who are teachers all have the day off tomorrow, but the guys at the vegetable shack say they will be working. We’re all set with everything we need for the rest of the week though, so for me it’s a chance to visit my usually busy neighbors.


      • indacampo says:

        When we were in Chitre on Monday the kids were all out of school, so it must be an arbitrary decision on when to observe the holiday.

        I think it’s going to be quiet for the next few days. Oh, except for the trucks with the big speakers getting the last bit of campaigning in. 🙂


        • I can’t figure half the days off around here. My friend (teacher) has today off, and tomorrow off because the school is preparing to be a voting center, and Monday off to clean it up from being a voting center. I went biking today and quite a few things are closed, but there are a lot of people hard at work too.


          • indacampo says:

            Yes, I just got told today that the kids are out of school today and Monday because of the election. It’s crazy noisy here with the last minute electioneering blasting out of the trucks with gigantic speakers.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Hola Kris. I’m kinda interested in this election. I assumed Martinelli was a decent Pres. Businessman and all….Now we have his V.P. Varela running. I believe its between Arias & Novarro ( the former mayor of Panama City. (P.R.D.)) Wow. Ya gotta love it with “revolutionary” in its title. I suppose. Anyway hope all works out well and that we foreigners will still be welcomed for the next 5/6 anos when I want to retire. Love your blog….David.


    • I think it will all work out. I know there are problems and people complain about various things but overall, things are going wonderfully well in Panama. I think they also realize the value of the money us expats bring to the country. It will be interesting to see how it all comes out though.
      Thanks, glad you enjoy the blog 🙂


  3. Sunni Morris says:


    I’d just stay home and drink in my own house if I couldn’t vote anyway.



  4. Robert & Helen says:

    Fortunately Bobama is not running for president in Panama. Anyway Republicans or Democrats in the USA is Voting for Pepsi or Coca Cola. Same applies to Europe, except for the real democracy in Zwitserland.


    • I don’t miss and won’t comment on politics in the US. It has just been interesting to watch the process here and see the similarities and differences.


  5. emma says:

    the whole thing with schools being closed irritated me. ISP isn’t a polling site but was required to close. so…. our friday costume fitting and monday tech rehearsal for this week’s shows couldn’t happen! very frustrating. you would think they would at least allow schools that aren’t polling sites to remain open. oh well. see you soon! 🙂


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