Country Report Panama March 1998 Main report

Political structure.

Official name: Republic of Panama

Form of state: Presidential democracy with Legislative Assembly and independent judicial system

The executive: The president is head of state, elected for a period of five years by universal adult suffrage; there are two vice-presidents and a cabinet appointed by the president

National legislature: Legislative Assembly, 72-member unicameral legislature, directly elected by adult suffrage for a period of five years

Legal system: The president proposes judges for the Supreme Court; they are approved by the Legislative Assembly to sit for ten-year periods; system of appeal originates in courts of first instance, rising to the Supreme Court at the apex

National elections: May 8th 1994; next national elections (legislative and presidential) due on May 2nd 1999

National government: Ernesto Perez Balladares was sworn in as president in September 1994, after winning the May elections with the backing of a coalition led by the Partido Revolucionario Democratico (PRD); the PRD and its allies have a slim majority in the Legislative Assembly

Main political organisations: Pro-government -- PRD; Partido Solidaridad (PS); Partido Laborista (PL); Partido Liberal Republicano (PLR) Opposition -- Coordinadora Democratica Nacional (CDN) alliance, comprising the Partido Arnulfista (PA); Movimiento Liberal Republicano Nacionalista (MOLIRENA); Partido Liberal Autentico (PLA); Partido Liberal Nacional (PLN); Partido Renovacion Civilista (PRC); Partido Democrata Cristiano (PDC); MORENA Neutral -- Movimiento Papa Egoro (MPE)

President Ernesto Perez Balladares First vice-president Tomas Gabriel Altamirano Duque Second vice-president Felipe Alejandro Virzi Key ministers Agricultural Carlos Sousa Lennox Canal issues Jorge E Ritter Education Pablo Thalassinos Finance & Treasury Miguel Heras Castro Foreign affairs Ricardo Alberto Arias Government & justice Raul Montenegro Health Aida L Moreno de Rivera Housing Francisco Sanchez Cardenas Labour & social welfare Mitchel Doens Planning & economy Guillermo Chapman Presidency Olmedo Miranda Public works Luis Blanco Trade & industry Raul Arango Youth & family Leonor Calderon

© 1998 The Economist lntelligence Unit Ltd. All rights reserved
Whilst every effort has been taken to verify the accuracy of this information, The Economist lntelligence Unit Ltd. cannot accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this information