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Permanent Council Receives Report of the Electoral Observation Mission in Panama

  October 8, 2014

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) received today the verbal report of the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) that accompanied the General Elections held in Panama on May 4, during a regular meeting at the headquarters of the Organization in Washington DC.

The report was presented by the Deputy Chief of the EOM, Maria Teresa Mellenkamp, on behalf of the Chief of Mission, the former Peruvian presidential candidate Lourdes Flores Nano, who explained the steps, observations and recommendations regarding the elections, where 1754 popularly elected positions were chosen, including President, Vice President, members and alternate members of PARLACEN, legislators, mayors, councilors and township representatives.

In the report, the EOM noted that the elections had a “high participation of citizens that reached 76.8% and who exercised their right peacefully and with great civic spirit" and stressed "the efforts of the Panamanian authorities to promote inclusiveness" referring to the efforts to promote voting in correctional centers, the availability of overseas voting, new voting methods, including the Internet and registration of new voters. It also emphasized the adoption of a reformed electoral code that includes "the elimination of straight-party voting, and the change of power to regulate campaigns between the Electoral Prosecutor (FE) and the Electoral Tribunal".

In terms of electoral organization, the OAS Mission stressed the effort to professionalize the Information Technology services through the implementation of the ISO 9001: 2008 quality management system and the implementation of cutting-edge technological tools to mitigate information security risks and noted that Panama "presents a scenario with highly automated elections."

As for the political participation of women in elections, the EOM Deputy Chief said that, despite the introduction of Law No. 54 of 2012 which provides increased gender quota in the primaries, "the percentage of female candidates (and alternates) for the 2014 elections remained at levels of under-representation in the various elected positions." She also said that the percentage of female candidates was around 21.6%, compared to the 50% expected with the existing regulation. She further noted that "despite this, the election results were positively surprising in terms of female representation, yielding an substantial increase of percentage of elected women.”

The Mission, which began its work in September of 2013 with a preliminary visit by the Chief of Mission, also presented a series of recommendations and conclusions of its work, among which included reviewing and reforming the financial political campaigns legislation, including the use of public and private resources and the interference by the executive power; strengthening the role of electoral prosecution; developing permanent institutional links between the Electoral Office and the Electoral Tribunal "so that they can adequately carry out their role in the various stages of the electoral process" and re-evaluating the appropriateness of the existing system of burning ballots, which "prevents review of the votes and makes recount impossible if the scrutiny is contested."

The Permanent Representative of Panama to the OAS, Ambassador Jorge Miranda, thanked the OAS General Secretariat and the countries that facilitated the deployment of 53 observers for the elections held in the country. He stated that "the electoral observation missions of the OAS are a significant contribution to the quality of electoral processes in our Hemisphere" and commented that "it is perhaps where the Organization reaches its highest visibility." "It's there in the field where our citizens exercise a fully popular sovereignty," insisted the Panamanian Ambassador, who emphasized the importance of respecting the rule of law and the independence between the branches of government. In this context he expressed his country's interest in "making this report known to all relevant instances of the Panamanian citizenry with the objective of giving it the deserved attention due to the important recommendations arising therefrom."

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video of the event is available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-425/14