Poll Tracker: Panama's 2024 Presidential Election

By Chase Harrison

Polls show a close race between the eight candidates for the single-round May 5 vote. AS/COA Online looks at who’s leading.

When Panamanians vote for a president on May 5, they’ll be picking from a familiar set of names. On the ballot are former President Martín Torrijos (2004–2009) of the People’s Party, current Vice President José Gabriel Carrizo of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, and former Foreign Secretary Rómulo Roux of the Democratic Change party. Two independent candidates—national deputy Zulay Rodríguez and lawyer Ricardo Lombana—are also running. 

However, the frontrunner in most polls is José Raúl Mulino of the Realizing Goals party, who served as foreign minister (1993–1994) and security minister (2010–2014). Mulino was originally supposed to be the vice-presidential candidate of former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009–2014), previously the favorite to win. An October Gallup poll put Martinelli at 43 percent of voter intention—34 percent higher than his closest rival. 

But in July 2023, a court sentenced the ex-office holder to 11 years in prison for money laundering. That sentence has been upheld several times and rendered him ineligible to run, with two March court decisions finalizing the banning of his candidacy. Martinelli’s exit secured Mulino’s place on the top of the ticket.

There is no runoff in Panama, meaning the candidate who nets the largest number of votes wins a five-year term. Casting a ballot is compulsory for Panama’s 3.2 million registered voters, though they can cast a null ballot. Consecutive reelection is not allowed, so current president Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo is not running. In the last presidential election, turnout was 73 percent.  

Which of candidates are leading the polls? What are the top issues for Panamanians? AS/COA Online explores.