Panama - Political and electoral system

Political and administrative structure

The Republic of Panama is divided politically into 9 provinces, 75 districts or municipalities, 3 province-level indigenous comarcas (counties) and 620 corregimientos (towns), two of which are located within comarcas. "The Municipality is the autonomous form of political organization of a community within a district." (Chap. 2, Title VIII, Art.229, 1992 Constitution).

National parliament

El Órgano Legislativo está constituido por una corporación unicameral denominada Asamblea Nacional, cuyos miembros son elegidos mediante votación popular directa, conforme a lo establecido por la Constitución. La Asamblea Nacional se compone de setenta y un (71) Diputadas y Diputados.

Municipal government

Each district is headed by a mayor, who leads the municipal government, and two alternates, elected by direct popular vote for five-year terms. Nevertheless, the law may allow the Executive Branch to freely appoint and remove mayors and their alternates. Constitution, Article 238. Each district is headed by a municipal council comprised of all the corregimiento representatives elected within the district. Constitution, Article 234.

Duration of terms

Under the constitutional amendments adopted in 1983, mayors may be either elected or appointed by the Executive Branch within a five-year period. Accordingly, mayors were elected in 1984, appointed in 1989, and elected in 1994 and 1999. Councilpersons or corregimiento representatives are elected concurrently with mayors.

Representation system

Mayors are elected by relative majority; corregimiento representatives are chosen by proportional distribution.

Type of list

Open list.

Electoral constituency

Uninominal for mayors; plurinominal for councilpersons. Corregimiento representatives are elected by proportional distribution.

Quota and parity laws

The electoral quota is incorporated to the Electoral Code in 1997 with Law 22, article 182-A and subsequentely in the modifications to the Electoral Code in 2007, leaving a quota of 30% for all candidatures to positions within parties and popularly-elected positions. Chapter III, Articles 236 and 239, Law 54 of 2012 reforms the Electoral Code and in article 239 establishes that internal party elections and primaries, the candidatures will be performed guaranteeing 50% for women as a minimum.

Legal instruments applicable to municipalities

Constitution of the Republic of Panama. 1972. Amended in 1994. http://www.asamblea.gob.pa/asamblea/constitucion/index8.htm

Electoral Justice

The Electoral Tribunal is responsible for ensuring that elections are carried out in a free, transparent and effective manner (1972 Constitution). The Electoral Tribunal is also responsible for regulating municipal elections (Art.24, Law No. 22 - Electoral Code Reform). http://www.tribunal- electoral.gob.pa/elecciones/elecciones1999/index.html