Anger over corruption widespread ahead of Panama election

Anger over corruption widespread ahead of Panama election
Supporters of Panamanian presidential candidate Romulo Roux, holding Democratic Change party banners, attend his closing campaign rally in Panama City, Thursday, May 2, 2019. In what has been perhaps the shortest and least colorful campaign since Panama's transition to democracy three decades ago, most election talk has focused on governmental corruption. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Anger over brazen corruption and weariness over the political status quo are widespread among the Panamanian electorate ahead of Sunday’s vote to pick a successor to President Juan Carlos Varela.

Most election talk has focused on government malfeasance following the massive leak of law firm documents in the Panama Papers and a regionwide scandal involving bribes paid by Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.

But that discontent could translate into a return to power for the opposition Revolutionary Democratic Party for the third time since the fall of Gen. Manuel Noriega in 1989.

A recent poll by La Prensa newspaper gave party standard-bearer Laurentino Cortizo a double-digit edge over his two nearest rivals.

“What Odebrecht has done in Latin America and Panama cannot be forgiven,” Cortizo said. “Convicted companies, forget about Panama!”