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.