No surprise, Genaro López wins FAD primary
Not the “primary of the left” that some wanted, but a sweeping victory in a low-turnout leftist party primary
FAD nominates Genaro López
by Eric Jackson
With the three other candidates for the Broad Front for Democracy (FAD) presidential nomination standing beside him, labor leader Genaro López gave a brief election night speech after having been proclaimed the winner of his party’s November 24 primary. “Workers now have their alternative,” the native of Chitra, in the Calobre district of Veraguas declared.
López took more than 71 percent of the vote in a primary where only a few more than 5,000 of the party’s more than 65,000 members voted. The presidential nomination was the only contest and its eventual result was widely expected. Plus, FAD activists argued, they didn’t give things away to entice people to the polls for bragging rights. Still, López enters the race with orders of magnitude fewer primary votes than the other three party nominees, Cambio Democratico’s José Domingo Arias, the PRD’s Juan Carlos Navarro and the Panameñistas’ Juan Carlos Varela.
Having worked his way through the ranks of the construction industry and the SUNTRACS construction workers’ union while getting his university education by night, López is the secretary general of the National Confederation of Independent Labor Union Unity (CONUSI) and the secretary of finance of SUNTRACS. Coming of age as a member of a leftist faction that lost dozens of its members killed or disappeared by the 1968-1989 dictatorship, López led SUNTRACS to become Panama’s largest and most powerful private sector union despite the attempts of every post-invasion administration to crush it in one way or another.
The Panamanian left still remains divided between those who made their peace with the dictatorship and those who did not, with economist Juan Jované running as an independent at the head of the faction that cooperated with the military regime at the time that the Panama Canal treaties were being negotiated and in some cases up until the invasion. The election laws have been rigged to prohibit explicit alliances between political parties and independent candidates, but if FAD and Jované’s backers decide to pool their efforts there is still more than one month to make arrangements for a joint slate. At the moment it seems that the divisions are too deep for this. FAD will not join a grand opposition alliance with the traditional parties to block Ricardo Martinelli’s continuation in office by proxy, but Jované might.
At the moment all factions of the left, independently or added together, are a fringe factor in the 2014 race. However, in local races and for seats in the legislature the leftists have some chances for victories. FAD’s leadership will nominate its slate of candidates for legislators, mayors and representantes.
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