Panama’s Vice-President Juan Carlos Varela caused the second election upset in Central America this year by winning the presidential contest on 4 May. Final surveys had suggested the contest between the frontrunner, José Domingo Arias of President Ricardo Martinelli’s Cambio Democrático (CD); Juan Carlos Navarro, of the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD); and Varela, of the traditional opposition right-wing Partido Panameñista (PPA), was tight. Yet Varela, who for much of the campaign was seen as the outsider, like Luis Guillermo Solís who surprised in the first round in Costa Rica on 2 February, scored a decisive victory.

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