Democratic Revolutionary Party
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|Democratic Revolutionary Party
Partido Revolucionario Democrático
|Secretary-General||Juan Carlos Navarro|
|Founded||March 11, 1979|
|Headquarters||Azteca Building, Mexico Avenue, Panama City, Panama|
|International affiliation||Socialist International|
|Colours||Blue, red, white|
|Seats in the National Assembly|
|Politics of Panama
The Democratic Revolutionary Party (Spanish: Partido Revolucionario Democrático, or PRD) is a Panamanian political party. It was founded in 1979 by the General Omar Torrijos, and is generally described as a party of the centre-left of the political spectrum.
History and creation
Since its creation, the party had strong ties with the military regime that ruled Panama since the military coup of 1968. Most of its members identified with Torrijos's social policy, and the legacy of the Canal Treaties signed a few years before his death. The political pressure by Torrijos nationwide and worldwide to the United States, were viewed as nationalist; Torrijos is listed as one of the greatest leaders Panama has ever had, along with Arnulfo Arias Madrid, who was taken from office three times.
With the signing of the Canal Treaties, Torrijos compromised to return Panama to democracy. To do so, he evolved a new political system by creating a new political party and ran as a presidential candidate in the 1984 elections against Arnulfo Arias.
With the death of General Omar Torrijos, the military regime ruling the country fell into a crisis of power. After his unclear death, two generals resigned before Manuel Antonio Noriega became general. The political scenario changed drastically, and Noriega began to persecute politicians who opposed him by showing his supremacy, ruling the country by pitting the military against the people.
Torrijos supported the Sandinistas in 1977 by sending Panamanian military troops and support to combat Somoza's armed forces, and other political and medical aid. One of the most important political leaders who fought was medical doctor Hugo Spadafora, who was minister of health under Torrijos' rule. Spadafora once told Torrijos that Noriega was working for the CIA and that they had a plot against him.
The Sandinistas won the war in Nicaragua, but few months later Somoza suffered a blast attack. Torrijos told one of the cabinet ministers that this attack would cost him his life.
The situation in the country was deteriorated and unclear under the Noriega's rule. Too many political mistakes by Noriega, and the US pressure by Almirant John Poindexter to use the Panamanian territory to fight against the Sandinistas got worse with his clear No, the Noriega's reason was "They are our friends", and the 1985 assassination of Spadafora generated the beginning of the political turmoil that ended in 1989 with the US invasion.
The PRD was manipulated by Noriega. There were many secretaries of the party, the most famous being Ramito Vasquez Chambonet at the beginning and Darinel Espino the end. Noriega also named presidents, ministries, legislators and other government positions loyalist to him. This created a deep crisis inside the party, which did not have inner democracy until the reforms after the US invasion.
Since democracy was restored in 1990, PRD politicians have restructured the party by increasing member participation, and for the first time holding primaries to elect representatives for government positions. It was the first party in Panama that underwent such restructuring, and was viewed as the most organized and biggest political party in the country.
The restructuring was led by Ernesto Perez Balladares, Francisco Sanchez, Mitchell Doens, Tomas G. Duque, and Gerardo Gonzalez. In 1991 part of this staff met Arias Calderon (Vice President of Panama) to make clear their interest in forming a political opposition and not a military.
The 1993 PRD presidential race was between Ernesto Perez Balladares and Alfredo Oranges; the result was 66 percent to 33 percent. Perez Balladares won the elections against Mireya Moscoso in 1994, and the legislative with majority of PRD.
The PRD lost the elections in 1999. Differences between Perez Balladares and presidential candidate Martín Torrijos, who also beat Oranges in the inner presidential race, made an unclear political offer for this election that ended with Mireya Moscoso being elected president and the PRD controlling the assembly.
Once the elections finished, the committee led by Perez Balladares resigned and Martín Torrijos was elected secretary. This period under Martin Torrijos' leadership was managed by "youngers" that improved well. The political mistakes by Moscoso's government opened a path for Torrijos, who easily won the presidential race in 2004.
In the 2004 general election, Martín Torrijos won the presidency with 47.4 percent of the vote, running as the candidate for the Patria Nueva ("New Fatherland") electoral alliance between the PRD and the smaller People's Party (PP). In the same election the party won 37.8 percent of the popular vote and 41 out of 78 seats in the National Assembly of Panama.
Primaries in 2008 were won by Balbina Herrera (Party President Member) facing Juan Carlos Navarro. The differences between Herrera and Navarro were so deep that they ended with a non-unified party, once again leading the PRD to lose the presidential race led by Balbina Herrera in 2009.
The committee resigned in October 2009 and a new committee was elected on October 18. The elections ended with the election of President Francisco Sanchez Cardenas and Secretary Mitchell Doens.
Starting in late 2012 the PRD started the democratic process of renovating all of their internal political structures, from delegates to Executive Committee members.
Juan Carlos Navarro in a fiery and passionate speech in March 2012 called for all members to joined him and his Ola Azul movement in forming a New PRD to ensure that the party be victorious in the upcoming 2014 elections. In August 2012 the 4,200 delegates of the National Congress convene to elect a new Executive Committee, the result was a decisive victory by Juan Carlos Navarro and the Ola Azul movement which won all 10 seats of the Executive Committee, with Navarro elected as Secretary-General. This was the first time in the party's history that one candidate was able to win all seats of the Executive Committee.
Primaries where held in March 2013 with 17 candidates taking part in the process. Juan Carlos Navarro gained 95% of the vote and was elected as the party's Presidential Candidate for the 2014 general election.
- Pérez, Orlando J. (2000), "The Past as Prologue?: Political Parties in Post-Invasion Panama", Post-invasion Panama: The Challenges of Democratization in the New World Order (Lexington Books): 129
- Delamarre-Sallard, Catherine (2008), Manuel de civilisation espagnole et latino-américaine (3rd ed.), Bréal, p. 196
- Stalker, Peter (2010), "Panama", Oxford Guide to Countries of the World (Oxford University Press): 248