Democratic Revolutionary Party

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Democratic Revolutionary Party
Partido Revolucionario Democrático
PresidentBenicio Robinson
Secretary-GeneralCarlos Pérez Herrera
FounderOmar Torrijos
Founded11 March 1979; 43 years ago (1979-03-11)
HeadquartersAzteca Building, Mexico Avenue, Panama City, Panama
IdeologySocial democracy[1]
Political positionCentre-left
Regional affiliationCenter-Democratic Integration Group and Parliamentary Group of the Left[4]
Continental affiliationSão Paulo Forum
International affiliationSocialist International
ColoursBlue, red, white
Seats in the National Assembly
35 / 71

The Democratic Revolutionary Party (Spanish: Partido Revolucionario Democrático, PRD) is a political party in Panama founded in 1979 by General Omar Torrijos. It is generally described as being positioned on the centre-left.


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. Domestic and international political pressure orchestrated by Torrijos against the United States was viewed as nationalist. Despite his aggressive methods, Torrijos is recognized as one of the most popular leaders Panama has ever had.

With the signing of the Canal Treaties, Torrijos committed to restoring at least nominal civilian rule to Panama. To do so, he created the PRD as his political vehicle, and filed to run for president in the 1984 elections against the man he'd overthrown in 1968, Arnulfo Arias.

With Torrijos's death, the military regime ruling the country fell into a crisis of power. After his unclear death, two generals resigned before Manuel Noriega took power. The political scenario changed drastically, and Noriega began to persecute politicians who opposed him, ruling the country by fear and terror.

The situation in the country deteriorated under Noriega's rule. The 1985 assassination of dissident Hugo Spadafora generated the beginning of the political turmoil that ended in 1989 with the US invasion of Panama.

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 loyal 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 Does, Tomas G. Duque, and Gerardo Gonzalez. In 1991 part of this staff met Arias Calderon, then vice president of Panama, to make clear their interest in forming a political opposition and not a military.

The 1993 PRD presidential nomination election was between Ernesto Perez Balladares and Alfredo Oranges, who won 66% and 33% of the vote respectively. Perez Balladares won the presidential elections against Mireya Moscoso and a PRD-majority legislature in 1994.

The PRD lost the 1999 elections. 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's being elected president and the PRD's 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" who 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% 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% of the popular vote and 41 out of 78 seats in the National Assembly of Panama.

The 2008 primaries were won by Balbina Herrera (Party President Member) against 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 Does.

Navarro and the new PRD[edit]

Starting in late 2012 the PRD began the democratic process of renovating all of their internal political structures, from delegates to executive committee members.

In a fiery and passionate speech in March 2012, Juan Carlos Navarro called for all members to join him and his Ola Azul movement in forming a new PRD to ensure the party's victory in the 2014 elections. In August 2012, the 4,200 delegates of the National Congress convened to elect a new executive committee; the result was a decisive victory by Navarro and the Ola Azul movement, which won all 10 seats of the executive committee, with Navarro elected 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 were held in March 2013, with 17 candidates taking part in the process. Juan Carlos Navarro won 95% of the vote and was elected as the party's presidential candidate for the 2014 general election.

The 2014 general election saw former vice-president and Panameñista Party candidate Juan Carlos Varela elected President with 39% of the vote. Juan Carlos Navarro and the PRD came a distant third in the general election, this is considered the worst election result in the history of the party. As a result of this, Navarro resigned his post as secretary-general, quickly followed by 4 other members.

A new election was held in order to fill the five vacant spots in the Executive Committee and San Francisco Councilman Carlos Perez Herrera was elected as secretary general.

Election results[edit]

Presidential elections[edit]

Year Candidate Votes Vote % Result
Party Alliance Total Party Alliance Total
1984 Nicolás Ardito Barletta 175,722 300,748 27.45 46.98 Won
1989 Carlos Alberto Duque Jaén 120,564 184,900 18.52 28.40 Lost
1994 Ernesto Pérez Balladares 326,095 355,307 30.57 33.30 Won
1999 Martin Torrijos 402,418 481,988 31.57 37.82 Lost
2004 Martin Torrijos 649,157 711,164 43.29 47.44 Won
2009 Balbina Herrera 553,974 584.931 34.92 37.54 Lost
2014 Juan Carlos Navarro 521,842 31.38 Lost
2019 Laurentino Cortizo 655,302 33.35 Won

Legislative elections[edit]

Year Alliance Votes Vote % Seats
1980 none 40.4%
11 / 57
1984 National Democratic Union 153,182 25.14
34 / 67
1989 National Liberal Coalition 114,741 18.83
10 / 67
1994 United People Alliance 236,319 22.86
30 / 72
1999 New Nation Alliance 393,356 31.99
34 / 71
2004 New Fatherland 549,948 37.85
41 / 78
2009 Alliance for Change 352,319 23.42
14 / 71
2014 none 535,747 31.49
25 / 71
2019 Joining Forces 655,428 33.35
35 / 71


  1. ^ 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, p. 129
  2. ^ Delamarre-Sallard, Catherine (2008), Manuel de civilisation espagnole et latino-américaine (3rd ed.), Bréal, p. 196
  3. ^ Stalker, Peter (2010), "Panama", Oxford Guide to Countries of the World, Oxford University Press, p. 248
  4. ^