Anger over corruption widespread ahead of Panama election

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!”

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