Elections and Events 1931-1980


January 2: Government overthrown

Major 1993: "The first and most dramatic signal of change on the isthmus was the coup d’état which ousted President Florencio Arosemena. It came after some stupendous malpractice on Arosemena’s part. Early in 1930 he had floated the idea of suspending the constitution, with American backing, in order to ‘cure the sickness of this country’...Standing outside the vicious ruling circle was the radical movement Acción Comunal, led by Harmodio Arias Madrid and Francisco Arias Paredes. In the light of repeated U.S. refusals to guarantee a straight presidential election, they drew the obvious conclusion that the only way to achieve power was to mount a coup...During the night of 1-2 January 1931 Arosemena was seized in an assault on the ‘presidencia’...In his place the Supreme Court nominated Panama’s envoy in Washington, Ricardo Alfaro" (pages 250-251).

Pearcy 1996: "Although the 1931 revolt toppled the Arosemena administration, it failed to dislodge the elite’s structural hegemony, a condition that severely limited the new regime’s effectiveness. Before Arosemena’s ouster, followers of former president Chiari, Arosemena’s wealthy patron, controlled both the National Police and the electoral board. After the uprising, the Chiaristas still wielded considerable influence among the police and commanded a majority of votes on the electoral board" (page 703).

Zimbalist 1991: "The alternating and increasingly cozy rule of Liberal and Conservative presidents ended dramatically in January 1931 when armed members of Acción Comunal...seized the presidential palace...The key to this successful venture was Washington’s decision to let the coup stand in exchange for a pledge from the Arias brothers that U.S. interests would not be threatened" (page 13).


General election (Harmodio Arias)

Conte-Porras 1980: "En este proceso electoral se utilizó por primera vez en nuestra historia la cédula de identidad personal, en base a los registros de nacimiento. En todo el territorio nacional se expedieron 83.618 cédulas. A las urnas concurrieron 68.635 ciudadanos" (page 237). "Elecciones populares del año de 1932" (page 253). Gives by province the number of votes for the top two candidates. "El Partido Liberal Doctrinario apoyó la candidatura de Harmodio Arias y el Partido Liberal Renovador a Francisco Arias Paredes." The source of the statistics is Diario El Panamá América, July 7, 1932.

Major 1993: The June "election day passed off quietly, in spite of the fact that the all-powerful Electoral Board was still controlled by Chiari...(F)or the first time in the history of presidential contests in Panama neither party had requested American intervention" (page 252).

McCain 1967: "None of the three parties which named presidential candidates in 1932 sought the intervention of the United States. In fact, American interference seems to have become odious to all factions and parties" (page 77).

Pearcy 1996: "To prevent Chiari’s followers from voting more than once, the Alfaro administration requested U.S. assistance in devising a plan to prevent multiple voting. The United States provided the government with an indelible red dye to stamp voters’ hands once they had cast their ballots. The voting results underscored the extent to which the insurgents now controlled the nation’s election machinery. Although the Chiaristas figured out how to erase the ink and vote more than once, nationalist candidate Harmodio Arias won the election over Francisco Arias by the surprisingly large margin of 39,533 to 29,282" (page 704). "[Arias] held a precariously small majority in the Assembly (18 to 14)" (page 711).



Pearcy 1996: The Hull-Alfaro Treaty is signed on March 2, 1936 (page 713). The treaty "provided the Arias administration with the political currency to help counter opposition. Regardless of its true significance..., the 1936 treaty decreased the pressure on Arias and permitted him to finish his term in office" (pages 713-714).

Presidential election (Juan Arosemena)

Conte-Porras 1980: "Aunque originalmente se reconoció el triunfo de Díaz, finalmente se declaró vencedor a Demóstenes Arosemena al haber alterado los resultados del sufragio en Veraguas, en forma escandalosa" (page 238). "Elecciones populares del año de 1936" (page 253). Gives by province the number of votes for the top two candidates. "El Dr. Juan D. Arosemena fue el candidato de los Partidos Liberal (Chiarista), el Partido Conservador y el Partido Nacional Revolucionario. El Sr. Díaz Arosemena fue el candidato del Partido Liberal Doctrinario y del Partido Renovador." The source of the statistics is Diario El Panamá América, June 12, 1936.

Pearcy 1996: "Instead of supporting the candidate of his own Partido Liberal Doctrinario, the president supported Juan Demóstenes Arosemena, his minister of foreign relations...Arosemena continued to function as part of the administration throughout his campaign. With President Arias as his political patron, Arosemena stuck to his controversial (and unconstitutional) candidacy...On election day, the administration distributed duplicate ‘cédulas’ (voter registration cards), destroyed ballot boxes, detained opposing members of the electoral board, and concocted ‘el paquetazo de Veraguas’...The result was a high voter turnout that exceeded all predictions--and possibilities--and brought Arosemena to the presidency despite his constitutional ineligibility" (page 714).


ICSPS 1968: "A new treaty [Hull-Alfaro], which amended the 1903 treaty so as to alleviate some Panamanian grievances, was concluded in 1936 and ratified by the United States Senate in 1939. The major clause of the new agreement terminated the right of the United States to intervene in Panamanian affairs, and control of all governmental responsibilities outside of the Canal Zone was turned over to Panama" (page 9).

Major 1993: President Arosemena "died on 16 December 1939" (page 260). "Arosemena’s death came as a thunderbolt to the Panamanian oligarchy, especially to Ambassador Augusto Boyd in Washington, who now became his successor, and to Arnulfo Arias, the favourite to win the 1940 election, en route to Panama to begin his campaign" (page 261).


June: Presidential election (Arnulfo Arias Madrid)

ISCPS 1968: "Arnulfo Arias Madrid...was elected in 1940 on the basis of a nationalist program which rested on hostility to all foreigners in general and to the United States and the West Indian and Chinese minorities in Panama in particular" (page 9).

LaFeber 1989: Arias "pieced together a political coalition, including some oligarchs with fascistic tendencies and the growing, nationalistic middle class. He swept into power by a vote of 107,750 to 3,022" (page 74).

Leonard 1998: "(I)t was Arnulfo Arias’s one-year presidency (1940-1941) that set in motion nationalistic forces that drastically changed the character of Panamanian politics. Arias’s policies not only infuriated the traditional elite but also the nonnative Panamanian business groups, students who demanded greater democracy, and West Indian workers who were affected by employment within the Canal Zone" (page 97).

Major 1993: "Shortly before polling day Alfaro fled into the Zone for sanctuary, and Arias became president by the familiar walkover" (page 262).

Martz 1959: Arnulfo Arias wins the election fraudulently in 1940 (page 266). He extends "the presidential term to six years by changing the constitution, and he apparently hoped to wipe out representative government entirely" (page 267).

Pearcy 1998: "Panama’s 1940 presidential election" (pages 83-86). Describes the campaign and the election. "Arias’ ties to the incumbent administration and, consequently, to the National Police gave him the advantage over his opponent. Moreover his temporary electoral coalition of liberal parties augmented his support among members of the electoral board" (page 86).

Ropp 1982: Gives margin by which Arias wins the election (page 24).

Zimbalist 1991: "(I)n 1940 Arnulfo swept to victory, devastating the parties of the commercial and business classes" (page 13).

Plebiscite on new constitution

Pearcy 1998: "Between his inauguration in 1940 and his overthrow one year later, Arnulfo Arias increased the size and the power of the central government in Panama City, in an attempt to counter opposition to his administration. He began by calling a plebiscite to draft a new constitution" (page 88).

Zimbalist 1991: Arias holds a plebiscite to consider a new constitution (page 170).


January: Constitution

Black 1989: "Arnulfo Arias had promulgated a new constitution in 1941, which was designed to extend his term of office" (page 32).

Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras: Panamá 1993: "(L)a Constitución de 1941 reconoció el derecho a sufragio de las mujeres, limitado a las mayores de 21 años y que tuvieran enseñanza secundaria or superior. Podían ser elegidas y elegir representantes de ayuntamientos provinciales" (page 93).

Pearcy 1998: In 1941 Arias "[gave] the vote to Panamanian women and [attempted] to incorporate them into the Panameñista cause" (page 89).

Perfil de la situación de la mujer en Panamá y lineamientos de acciones prioritarias 1992: "(E)l reconocimiento mediatizado al voto de la mujer de la Constitución de 1941...quedó reservado a las mujeres instruidas (mayores de 21 años y con enseñanza secundaria o superior)" (page 25).

Zimbalist 1991: "The racism of the Acción Comunal exceeded rhetoric and was codified in the new constitution" which is ratified on January 2, 1941 (pages 13 and 170).

October: Government overthrown, replaced by Adolfo de la Guardia

ICSPS 1968: "A period of confusion followed in which no president was able to complete his term, and the growing power of Col. José Remón, commander of the National Guard, as the behind-the-scenes manipulator became obvious" (page 9).

Major 1993: "Arias’s successor [is] the minister of of government and justice, Ricardo Adolfo de la Guardia" (page 266).

Millett 1992: "In 1941 the United States urged the Panamanian Police, the predecessors of the present-day Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF), to oust President Arnulfo Arias, who was balking at granting Washington ninety-nine-year leases on additional military bases and sites outside the Canal Zone" (pages 56-57).


Pearcy 1998: "On May 18, 1942, the governments of the United States and Panama signed the Defense Site Agreement. The culmination of nearly two years of negotiations between the two nations, this pact granted the United States the right to temporarily occupy 134 defense sites throughout the republic of Panama in addition to those permanent United States installations located within the Canal Zone" (page 111).


Constituent assembly election

Conte-Porras 1980: "Elecciones del año de 1945" (page 254). Gives the number of votes and seats won by each of seven parties in the constituent assembly election.

Mujeres latinoamericanas en cifras: Panamá 1993: "En la Asamblea Constituyente de [1945] hubo una mujer entre los nueve diputados nacionales y otra entre cuarenta y dos diputados provinciales" (page 93).

Smith 1992: Gives percent of seats and votes won by the Liberals (page 217).

June: Congress elects Enrique Jiménez to the presidency

Conte-Porras 1980: "La Convención Nacional Constituyente eligió como Presidente de la República a Enrique Adolfo Jiménez el día 15 de Junio de 1945 y en oposición a las aspiraciones de Roberto Francisco Chiari del Partido Liberal Nacional" (page 238).

Major 1993: De la Guardia "agreed to stay on until a constituent assembly met in June, and after elections to the Assembly went against him, stepped down in favour of Enrique Jiménez, named as provisional president until September 1948" (page 270).



Black 1989: "The constitution of 1946 erased the innovations introduced by Arias and restored traditional concepts and structures of government" (page 32).

Pearcy 1998: Jiménez "replaced Panama’s controversial 1941 constitution with a new document in 1946. When he did so, he did not revoke the right of women to vote, although they had not yet exercised it, because the nation had not held elections since 1940. Jiménez also expanded women’s suffrage, by eliminating some education-based requirements that had excluded Panama’s lower-class women. In addition the 1946 constitution allowed women to vote in presidential and legislative elections for the first time. Jiménez hoped that the new constitution would counter some of the support Panamanian women had given to the Arias camp since the 1940 campaign" (page 103).

Villanueva 1994: "El sufragio femenino se incorpora al texto constitucional en 1946. Y es a partir de esta fecha que se establece el voto universal, libre, igual, secreto y directo" (page 167).


Pearcy 1998: On December 10, 1947 the Filós-Hines Treat between Panama and the United States is signed, granting "Washington permission to retain troops at thirteen sites American officials considered critical to the defense of the canal" (page 112).


May: Presidential election (Díaz)

Conte-Porras 1980: "Elecciones populares del año 1948" (page 254). Gives by province the number of votes for five presidential candidates. The source of the statistics is Estrella de Panamá May 28, 1948.

ICSPS 1968: Disputes over a three-way election lead to the wounding of two members of the national electoral board, martial law, annulment of the election by the assembly, revocation of the anulment by the supreme court, and appointment as president of the candidate supported by Remón (page 29).

LaFeber 1989: "For the 1948 campaign the reigning Liberal Party chose seventy-three-year-old Domingo Díaz as its candidate. Arnulfo Arias rose from the political dead, dusted off his ‘panameñismo’ nationalism, and in an initial count by the National Elections Board apparently won the presidency by 1500 votes. Díaz supporters thereupon attacked the Board...At this point José Remón, head of the National Guard, took charge. Under his protection the Elections Board magically made enough of Arias’s votes disappear so Díaz became President" (page 84).

Leonard 1998: The National Police "suppressed the violence that marred the 1948 presidential campaign and that which followed the election of Domingo Díaz Arosemena when Arias’s Panameñistas demonstrated against the fraudulent election results" (page 97).

Madrid 1989: "En 1948...se realizó en Panamá el primer torneo electoral en que participan las mujeres masivamente. Esta fue también la elección en que se produjo la menos abstención femenina en el sufragio; la mayor votación (58.1%) y la única que registró separadamente la votación femenina de la masculina" (page 74).

Major 1993: "Jiménez threw the election to Arias’s opponent, Domingo Díaz" (page 271).


Conte-Porras 1980: "A pesar de las muchas irregularidades cometidas por todas las entidades electorales, el triunfo de Arnulfo Arias era reconocido hasta por sus adversarios políticos. El día 30 de Junio de 1948 el Jurado Nacional de Elecciones alteró las actas de votación con el propósito de garantizar el triunfo de Domingo Díaz Arosemena. Pero el recuento final de los votos arrojó el siguiente resultado para cada uno de los candidatos presidenciales: Arnulfo Arias Madrid 73.459 votos, Domingo Díaz Arosemena 71.897 votos, José Isaac Fabrega 41.299 votos. El nuevo cómputo oficialmente reconocido por el Jurado Nacional de Elecciones concedió a Domingo Díaz el triunfo por un escaso margen de 2000 votos, tras anular gran cantidad de actas electorales en Veraguas" (page 122).


Schooley 1987: "The National Electoral Jury announced the final results on Aug. 7, according Díaz a majority of 2,364 votes" (page 112).


Conte-Porras 1980: "Al hacer un nuevo recuento de las actas del proceso electoral, se determinó el triunfo del Dr. Arias, de acuerdo al nuevo resultado de las elecciones: Arnulfo Arias Madrid 74.080 votos, Domingo Díaz Arosemena 71.536 votos. Y en esa forma, el Jurado Nacional de Elecciones resolvió declarar Presidente Constitucional por el resto del período presidencial al Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid, a quien de inmediato se le otorgó la credencial respectiva" (page 134).

ICSPS 1968: "(I)n 1949, Remón ousted both vice presidents in order and installed Arnulfo Arias, whom he had previously jailed, as chief executive" (page 9).

LaFeber 1989: "Remón consolidated Arias’s power, even calling in the Elections Board to recount the 1948 results so Arnulfo would win officially. In hours the Board found pro-Arias votes it had been unable to find in weeks after the 1948 balloting...Remón believed he could handle Arnulfo. Since the new President could not constitutionally succeed himself, moreover, Remón was in perfect position to win the presidency himself in 1952" (page 87).

Leonard 1998: "In the tense political atmosphere of 1949, Remón permitted the popular Arias to be elected president on his promise not to interfere with the police" (page 97).

Major 1993: Díaz "died 1 August 1949, to be succeeded by the first vice-president, Daniel Chanis. Chanis, however, was soon in extremis after he was unwise enough to offend one of the most powerful combines within the ruling class...Remón forced him out and installed his cousin Roberto Chiari in the ‘presidencia.’ Forty-eight hours later...Chanis withdrew his resignation...Remón replaced Chiari with Arnulfo Arias...Arnulfo had the satisfaction of seeing the Electoral Jury reverse its 1948 verdict and pronounce him president by right" (page 271).

Pérez 1995: "In 1949, with the death of the president, the National Guard recounted the votes of the 1948 elections and declared that Arnulfo (Arias) had won after all. He was then inaugurated president" (page 143).


Schooley 1987: "In April 1950 Arias outlawed the Communist Party...In early May he...announced that the 1946 constitution would be suspended in favour of the less liberal one of 1941" (page 112).


May 7

Major 1993: "The 1946 constitution was abrogated to make way for the return of the 1941 constitution Arnulfo himself had introduced. The National Assembly was dissolved and a ‘de facto’ presidential government set up, with all appointments in Arias’s own hands" (page 274).

May 10: President removed from office, replaced by vice president (Arosemena)

ICSPS 1968: "Two years later Arias was impeached, losing his civil rights, in a move which was credited to Remón" (page 9).

LaFeber 1989: "After suspending the 1946 constitution, Arias tried to destroy the National Assembly and Supreme Court. The Assembly retaliated by impeaching him and electing Alcibiádes Arosemena as President. Arias asked Remón for protection. Concluding that Arias could no longer be trusted, Remón sided with the Assembly. But when Remón’s two top aides served the eviction notice on the President, Arias’s supporters killed both in cold blood...The Assembly brought Arnulfo to trial, stripped him of all political rights, and sent him off into exile. (Within a decade he returned with rights restored, ready for another go-round with Remón’s successors)" (page 89).

Major 1993: "Bereft of American support, Arnulfo found himself besieged inside the ‘presidencia,’ faced with a general strike, and then impeached by the National Assembly, which administered the presidential oath to Alcibíades Arosemena" (page 275).

Schooley 1987: Arias "was impeached by the Assembly on charges of violating the constitution, imprisoned briefly and banned from public life" (page 112).


May: Presidential election (Remón / CPN)

Conte-Porras 1980: "Elecciones populares del año de 1952" (page 255). Gives by province the number of votes for top two candidates. The source is Estrella de Panamá May 29, 1952.

Gandásegui 1990: "En 1952 es elegido presidente el jefe de la Policía Nacional, coronel José A. Remón" (page 375).

ICSPS 1968: "Remón won a landslide victory after an unusually heavy voter turnout" (page 30).

LaFeber 1989: "An interim President served while Remón and Chiari fought the 1952 presidential campaign. Aided by his politically astute wife, Cecilia, who organized the newly granted vote to women..., Remón won an overwhelming victory" (page 89).

Leonard 1998: "New electoral laws denied Arias’s Panameñistas from participating. Remón’s program reflected the five-party coalition that he assembled to win the election: the Coalición Nacional Patriótica (CPN)" (page 97).

Martz 1959: "(O)n May 11, 1952, Panamanian voters went to the polls to elect their next president, two vice-presidents, and fifty-three deputies. Last minute pre-election estimates anticipated a turnout of some 180,000 to 190,000 voters" (page 273). "(F)inal results gave Remón an emphatic margin of victory, 133,208 to 78,094" (page 275).


Gandásegui 1990: Remón "crea la Guardia Nacional (1953)" (page 375).

Zimbalist 1991: "The 1953 electoral reform law in effect reduced the field of political parties to lineal descendants of the old Liberals and Conservatives" (page 14).


January 2: President assassinated, term completed by second vice president (Arias Espinosa)

Martz 1959: "On January 23, 1955, the Republic of Panama and the United States of America signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation" (page 291).


May: Presidential election (de la Guardia / CPN)

Conte-Porras 1980: "(L)a figura que ha logrado una mayor repercusión en el ámbito nacional ha sido Cecilia Pinel de Remón, y quien durante la campaña electoral de 1956 fue mencionada con insistencia como pre-candidato a la Presidencia de la República" (page 49). "Elecciones populares del año de 1956" (page 255). Gives by province the number of votes for the top two candidates.

Harris 1970: "Ernesto de la Guardia, the government candidate and a member of one of the ruling families, won the election in 1956...The election, in which there were 380,000 eligible voters, was calm, and the verdict was convincing if judged by official results" (page 179).

ICSPS 1968: "The CPN was almost unopposed in the 1956 election race...(T)he PLN made the gesture of offering candidates but did not campaign vigorously" (page 30).

Martz 1959: "Elections were held Sunday, May 12, 1956...The fifty-three Assembly deputies, 106 alternates, and of course the president and two vice-presidents were to be chosen by 380,000 eligible voters" (page 309). "The final tally was 177,633 to 81,737" (page 310).

Schooley 1987: "In the concurrent legislative elections the CPN won 42 of the 53 seats in the Assembly" (page 113).


November 3: Anti-U.S. riots


May: Presidential election (Chiari / PLN)

Black 1989: "Most dissenting factions joined the PLN in the National Opposition Union, which in 1960 succeeded in electing its candidate, Roberto Chiari" (page 37).

Conte-Porras 1980: "Elecciones populares del año de 1960" (page 256). Gives by province the votes for top three candidates. The source is Estrella de Panamá May 21, 1960.

Gorvin 1989: "In May 1960 Francisco Chiari of the PLN defeated Arias Espinosa by 100,152 votes to 86,192" (page 267).

Harris 1970: "In the 1960 election there were three candidates, all of whom were wealthy...[Chiari’s] candidates gained 28 of the 53 legislative seats. The National Patriotic Coalition, the government’s party and the main opposition, won 10 seats. The Alliance, supporting Victor F. Goytía, obtained seven seats" (pages 179-189).

ICSPS 1968: "The 1960 election was without precedent in Panama. For once the usual charges of illegal intervention by the National Guard were absent, and the opposition Liberal coalition candidate, Roberto Chiari, was declared the winner and installed in office in an unexpectedly peaceful transfer of power" (page 10).

Gandásegui 1988: "La historia política panameña registra sólo una experiencia donde la oposición triunfa en elecciones presidenciales y el poder es transferido sin conflicto al ganador. Es el caso de las elecciones de 1960" (page 113).



Conte-Porras 1980: On January 4, 1964 Arnulfo Arias organizes a demonstration with over 50,000 participants and accepts his party’s nomination as candidate for president of Panama (page 182).

ICSPS 1968: "The full force of nationalist hostility toward the United States culminated in a mob assault on the Canal Zone in January 1964...Chiari immediately broke relations with the United States, which were restored three months later. At the same time talks directed toward a new treaty between the United States and Panama were initiated" (page 10).

Oppenheimer 1992: "Violent riots in Panama in January 1964 left 21 Panamanians and 4 Americans dead. Panama broke relations with the United States on January 17, 1964" (page 42).

General election (Robles / Liberal)

Black 1989: "The Electoral Tribunal announced that Robles had defeated Arias by a margin of more than 10,000 votes of the 317,312 votes cast...Arias supporters...won a majority of the National Assembly seats" (page 42).

Conte-Porras 1980: "El día 10 de Mayo de 1964, y apenas finalizó el sufragio, Arnulfo Arias denunció que el proceso electoral había sido objeto de fraude, y el Partido Demócrata Cristiano, en igual forma, hizo una denuncia sobre irregularidades en los escrutinios" (page 183). Gives the number of votes received by the top three candidates (page 184). Unlabelled table, but it appears to be for the election of 1964 (page 257). Gives by province the number of persons eligible to vote, the number of votes cast, the percent of the eligible population who voted, the number of valid votes cast for each of nineteen parties, and the votes cast for the top two coalitions.

Gorvin 1989: "PLN retained the presidency in 1964 when Marco Aurelio Robles won 134,627 votes compared with 123,186 for Arias Madrid, now candidate of the Panamanian Party. Arias maintained that the elections had been rigged and demanded a recount, but the National Elections Board upheld the result" (page 267).

Harris 1970: "The Panameñista party claimed that the 1964 election was fraudulent and the Robles government was unpopular and therefore did not represent the country’s treaty aspirations. Furthermore, Arias claimed to represent 125,000 voters out of an electorate of 290,000, and joined forces with other groups to oppose the proposed new treaties" (page 181).

ICSPS 1968: "Geographic distribution of the electorate by province, 1964" (page 15). Gives by province the percent of the country’s total population resident there, number of registered voters, percent of total votes cast, votes cast as percent of registered voters, and votes cast. Totals these categories for the country. "Number of deputies elected by party and province, 1964" (page 32). Gives for each party the total number of deputies elected and the number elected in each province. "Electoral population, votes cast, votes validated, for president, by province and party, 1964" (page 33). Gives by province the electoral population, votes cast, percent of electoral population, and votes validated. Gives for each party the votes in each province.

Roberts 1968: "Presidential" (page 175). Gives candidate and party, number of votes, and percent of vote won in election of 1964.



Schooley 1987: "In March the Assembly impeached Robles for violating the constitution by giving official support to a candidate" (page 115).


Black 1989: "The Supreme Court, with only one dissenting vote, ruled the impeachment proceedings unconstitutional...Robles, with the support of the National Guard, retained the presidency" (page 43).

Gorvin 1989: "As the 1968 elections approached the opposition accused President Robles of unlawfully using his office to support the candidacy of David Samudio as his successor. The opposition parties held a majority in the legislature, which impeached Robles in April 1968, a month before the elections, but the Supreme Court ruled the impeachment unconstitutional and Robles remained in the Presidential Palace with the support of the National Guard" (page 267).

May 12: Presidential and congressional election (Arnulfo Arias Madrid)

Black 1989: "The election took place on May 12, 1968...and tension mounted over the succeeding eighteen days as the Election Board and the Electoral Tribunal delayed announcing the results. Finally the Election Board declared that Arias had carried the election by 175,432 votes to 133,887 for Samudio and 11,371 for González Revilla" (page 43).

Conte-Porras 1980: "Resultado de las elecciones de 1968" (page 189). Gives the number of votes for the top three candidates. "Elecciones populares del año de 1968" (page 256). Gives by province the number of votes for top three candidates. Source is Diario La Crítica May 18, 1968.

Schooley 1987: "The 1968 election was contested acrimoniously before Arias Madrid was declared the winner on May 30" (page 115).

October 1

Black 1989: "Arias took office on October 1, demanding the immediate return of the Canal Zone to Panamanian jurisdiction and announcing a change in the leadership of the National Guard. He attempted to remove the two most senior officers" (page 43).

October 12: Government overthrown

Black 1989: "The multi-party system that existed until the coup d’état of 1968 served to regulate competition for political power among the leading families. Individual parties characteristically served as the personal machines of leaders, whose clients (supporters or dependents) anticipated jobs or other advantages if their candidate were successful. Of the major parties competing in the 1960s, only the highly factionalized PLN had a history of more than two decades" (page 41).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections volume 3 1969: "The political crisis which was latent in Panama since May 1968, when Mr. Arnulfo Arias won the presidential election against Mr. Marcos Robles, the outgoing President, finally came to a head 12 days after Mr. Arias took up office. On October 12, 1968, the new President was overthrown by a group of officers of the National Guard whose chief had just been relieved of his command by Mr. Arias. Parliament was immediately dissolved by the junta, which set up an emergency Government and proimised to restore representative institutions and organize general elections" (page 13).

Dunkerley 1996: The coup of October 1968 is "initially provoked by Arnulfo Arias’s attempt upon entering office to remove the Presidential Guard from [Guardia Nacional] control...Political parties were banned for a full decade (1968-78)" (page 78).

Ropp 1982: "This period (1968-1972) coincided with the years during which Torrijos governed through cabinet decrees. Although there was a civilian president, he had no real power; the National Assembly and political parties were abolished" (page 41).

Ropp 1984: "In 1968, a military coup occurred that overthrew the government of President Arnulfo Arias. Rather than returning power to civilians, the National Guard promulgated a new constitution that designated Torrijos Maximum Leader of the Revolution" (page 240).

Ropp 1990: "(T)he military coup against Arnulfo Arias brought Gen. Omar Torrijos to power. Torrijos quickly built a political base among marginal groups in both Panama City and the countryside" (page 555).


Black 1989: "No elections were held under the military government until April 1970, when the town of San Miguelito, incorporated as the country’s sixty-fourth municipal district, was allowed to elect a mayor, treasurer, and municipal council. Candidates nominated by trade groups and other nonpartisan bodies were elected indirectly by a council that had been elected by neighborhood councils" (page 46).


Black 1989: "Subsequently the new system was extended throughout the country, and in 1972 the 505-member National Assembly of Municipal Representatives met in Panama City to confirm Torrijos’s role as head of government and to approve a new constitution. The new document greatly expanded governmental powers at the expense of civil liberties" (page 46).

Country profile. Costa Rica, Panama 1994-1995: "A revision of the 1946 constitution was approved in 1972, vesting extraordinary executive powers in General Torrijos over the next six years" (page 32).

Modglin 1984: "Under the 1972 Constitution...a National Assembly of Corregimientos of 505 community representatives was created. This body held some real substantive power but was generally overshadowed by the Legislative Council...The Corregimientos were not viewed as an independent body" (page 13).

Nickson 1995: "The 1972 Constitution empowered the national legislature to decide whether the municipal executive head should be either a central government appointee or an elected mayor. From 1972 to 1994, the executive head was selected by councillors from a slate of three candidates presented to them by central government. Under this arrangement, executive heads were effectively appointed by the president of the republic, thereby highlighting their primary role as the local representatives of central government in the area of public security" (pages 221-222).

Ropp 1982: "In 1972, the National Assembly was replaced by the Assembly of Corregimientos" (page 42). "While the Liberals and Panameñistas boycotted the elections for representatives to the Assembly of Corregimientos, the Communist Party ran 120 candidates" (page 77). Gives seats won by the Communist party. "Number of valid votes per provincial representative, 1972 elections" (page 78). Gives province, number of representatives, number of valid votes, and number of valid votes per representative.

Ropp 1984: "The old National Assembly associated with the influence of the traditional parties was abolished and replaced with an Assembly of Corregimientos. This new Assembly contained 505 members elected from the small subdistricts into which Panama had been divided during colonial times" (page 241).

Ropp 1990: "The National Assembly, which had come to be viewed by the military as an elite-dominated institution, was replaced with a much larger legislature whose members were elected from the country’s 505 municipal subdistricts. The traditional political parties were banned from electoral participation, and short legislative sessions ensured that there would be no time to mount meaningful challenges to military executive authority. The 1972 constitution, which created this new ‘popular legislature,’ also recognized the central role within the executive branch of General Torrijos and the defense forces...The impotency of the president within this new constitutional structure was best expressed by the fact that he could neither appoint nor remove military personnel" (page 557).

Schooley 1987: "Meeting in September the Assembly acclaimed Gen. Torrijos as ‘the Supreme leader of the Panamanian Revolution’" (page 115).



Black 1989: "On September 7, 1977, Carter and Torrijos met in Washington to sign the treaties...The Panama Canal Treaty, the major document signed on September 7, abrogated the 1903 treaty and all other previous bilateral agreements concerning the canal" (page 51).


Black 1989: "(T)he plebiscite that...served as the legal means of ratification in Panama, saw only two-thirds of Panamanians registering their approval of the new treaties, a number considerably smaller than that hoped for by the government" (page 56). "(P)olitical opponents of Torrijos argued that the government purposely limited the information available on the treaties and then asked the people to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ in a plebiscite that the opposition maintained was conducted fraudulently" (page 57).

Major 1993: Panama votes "on the treaties in a national referendum...On 24 October the plebiscite came out two to one in support of the treaties" (page 350).



Chronicle of parliamentary elections volume 12 1978: Describes three new electoral laws passed on February 10, 1978 (page 16).

April 18: Torrijos-Carter Canal treaties ratified by the United States Senate

Ardito-Barletta 1997: "The treaties allowed Panama’s ever increasing participation in canal administration, return of lands and waters, and greater economic benefits, and guaranteed full control over the canal by the year 2000" (page 33).

Millett 1993: "As part of the negotiations leading up to the new canal treaties, Torrijos promised U.S. president Jimmy Carter to return Panama to civilian rule" (page 15).


Ropp 1990: Torrijos "formed the...PRD to incorporate the various groups that supported his military regime as the country moved toward a democratic opening. Formation of the PRD suggested that the military wished to give permanent institutional form to its reformist ideals through the establishment of a new political party that would regularly win elections with military backing" (page 555).

Schooley 1987: "The first three political parties to emerge [in the period March-June 1978] were the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) led by Torrijos, the Liberal Party led by David Samudio and the pro-Torrijos Broad Popular Front (Frampo), which had evolved from the MAI" (page 119).

August: National Assembly of Community Representatives election

Chronicle of parliamentary elections volume 13 1979: "The unicameral Parliament of Panama, the National Assembly of Community Representatives (‘corregidores’), comprises 505 members elected for 6 years" (page 109). Describes the electoral system. "In the 1978 Assembly elections, some 1,927 independent candidates vied for the 505 seats, political parties having been abolished in February 1969...Polling day was marked by a high turnout, estimated at 80%. Pro-Government candidates were reported to have won a clear majority."

Pearson 1982: "On August 6, 1978, the first of several steps was taken under the Constitution of 1972 which was to lead ultimately to the restoration of power to elected officials. One representative was elected from each of the 505 ‘corregimientos’ (municipalities) of Panama to a National Assemlby of Corregimiento Representatives" (page 325).

Schooley 1987: "Although parties were not officially recognized in the August 1978 elections to the National Assembly of Community Representatives, a majority of successful candidates could be identified as being pro-government. Arias Madrid’s PP boycotted the campaign after an abortive attempt to form a united opposition front" (page 118).

Weeks 1989: "In 1978, after the signing of the Torrijos-Carter treaties, Torrijos organized an indirect election for a new president, intended to consolidate the rule of the regime. In the event it proved a demonstration of the weakness of the government’s popular support. The PRD secured only 40 percent of the vote, achieving a majority only in coalition with the People’s Party...and the Frente Amplio Popular. While the government faced no national electoral test for six more years, it is likely that its popularity was in decline in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Under pressure of economic difficulties, the government began a retreat from its populism even before Torrijos died in an air crash in 1981" (page B321).


Schooley 1987: "(I)n September [Torrijos] announced that he would step down as Chief of Government when his six-year term expired in October but would remain Commander of the National Guard" (page 118).

October: constitution

Black 1989: "In October 1978...the 1972 Constitution was reformed to implement a new electoral law and legalize political parties. In the spirit of opening the political system that accompanied the ratification of the Panama Canal treaties, exiled political leaders, including former President Arnulfo Arias, were allowed to return to the country, and a flurry of political activity was evident during the subsequent eighteen months. Foremost among the activities were efforts to obtain the 30,000 signatures legally required to register a party for the October 1980 elections...The 1978 amendments to the 1972 Constitution markedly decreased the powers of the executive branch of government and increased those of the legislature, but the executive remained the dominant branch" (pages 57-58).

October: Presidential election

Ardito-Barleta 1997: "General Torrijos chose not to become president of Panama but remained commander of the National Guard. On his recommendation, the National Assembly of Representatives elected Dr. Arístides Royo president for a six-year term (1978-1984)" (page 35).

Pearson 1982: "(T)he newly elected assembly elected Aristedes Royo and Ricardo de la Espriella as President and Vice President respectively to succeed Demetrio Basilio Lakas and Arturo Sucre Pereira" (page 325).

Schooley 1987: "The new National Assembly was inaugurated on Oct. 11 and by 452 votes to 13 Torrijos’ nominee, Arístides Royo (a former minister of education and one of the treaty negotiators), was elected President" (page 119).

Zimbalist 1991: "The first step in returning the military to the barracks was the indirect election by the National Assembly of Municipal Representatives in 1978 of a civilian president and vice-president...Law No. 81 of October 1978 legalized political parties, and Torrijos wasted no time in forming his own coalition, the Democratic Revolutionary party (PRD)" (page 121).


Black 1989: "The PRD...was the first party to be officially recognized under the registration process that began in 1979. Wide speculation held that the PRD would nominate Torrijos as its candidate for the presidential race planned for 1984. Moreover, many assumed that with government backing, the PRD would have a substantial advantage in the electoral process. In March 1979, a coalition of eight parties called the National Opposition Front...was formed to battle the PRD in the 1980 legislative elections, the first free elections to be held in a decade" (page 58).

Schooley 1987: "In 1979 ten smaller political parties and groups formed the United Opposition Front (Freno), demanding immediate elections, the direct election of representatives to a new legislative body and full freedom of expression" (page 119).


Ardito-Barleta 1997: "The new push for democracy began with the agreement to open a legislative assembly in 1980. Two-thirds of the assembly would be chosen by the Assembly of Representatives from among its members; the other third would be chosen by direct popular vote" (page 35).

September: Congressional election

Black 1989: "All qualified parties competed in the 1980 legislative elections, but these elections posed no threat to Torrijos’s power base because political parties vied for only nineteen of the fifty-seven seats in the legislature. The other two-thirds of the representatives were appointed, in essence by Torrijos’s supporters. The PRD won twelve of the available nineteen seats; the PLN won five seats, and the PDC, one. The remaining seat was won by an independent candidate running with the support of...the PPP" (page 59).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections volume 15 1981: Describes the September 28, 1980 elections, the laws that regulated them, which parties could participate, the requirements for candidates, and the results of the elections (page 21). Gives the distribution of the 57 seats (page 22).

Estadísticas electorales de las elecciones nacionales celebradas el 28 de septiembre de 1980 para escoger los 19 representantes provinciales que completaron el Consejo Nacional de Legislación 1981: "Resultados oficiales de las elecciones celebradas el 28 de septiembre de 1980, según cifras tomadas directamente de las actas de las mesas de votación, por provincia, distrito, corregimiento, centro de votación y mesa de votación; por candidato." Reproduces the statistics for each province.

Pearson 1982: "Elections were held September 28, 1980 for 19 seats (one third) of a National Legislative Council--another 38 members (two thirds) already having been elected by the National Assembly--which would meet when the National Assembly was not in session. In the September 1980 elections, the PRD won 40.4 percent of the vote and 11 of the 19 seats; the PL--divided on whether it should run or not--won five seats; the Christian Democrats--now registered--won 20.7 percent and two seats, while one independent won the remaining seat. The pro-Torrijos FRAMPO failed to win a single seat. On the other hand, some 40 percent of the potential 800,000 voters abstained--many of whom were affiliated with parties in...FRENO...which was headed by the eighty-year old former President Arnulfo Arias Madrid" (pages 325-326).

Schooley 1987: "Elections to 19 seats in the National Legislative Council (an upper house in which the other 38 delegates were appointed from the Assembly) were held on Sept. 28, 1980. The PRD took 10 seats, the Liberal Party...five, the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) two and independents ...two. The abstention rate was about 50 per cent, caused at least partly by the PP call for a boycott" (page 119).

Scranton 1991: "Parties were reactivated, in no small part because Torrijos planned to create a new party to represent the military, its interests and constituencies. This party, the PRD, was the first one to garner the 30,000 signatures required to be legally registered. Arias reactivated and registered his Panameñista party, but refrained from contesting the 1980 election. About 60 percent of the eligible voters turned out to vote. The PRD campaigned for all nineteen elected seats on the National Legislative Council and won ten. Christian Democratic party candidates won two seats, and the Liberals won five. Two independent (nonparty) candidates also won seats. Thus, in its first electoral test, the PRD won a majority" (page 56).

Zimbalist 1991: "On September 28, 1980, nineteen representatives were elected to a fifty-seven-member National Council of Legislation, with restricted legislative powers" (page 121).