Democratic Revolutionary Party

Published 23rd April, 2014

The Democratic Revolutionary Party or PRD was originally founded by General Omar Torrijos on 11th March 1979. The party describes itself today as a Centre-left party and believes in Social Democracy and Populism.

Following the death of General Omar Torrijos the party was ‘taken over’ or ‘manipulated’, depending upon your point of view, by General Manuel Noriega.

In the 1984 general election the PRD led National Democratic Union (UNADE) presidential candidate Nicolás Barletta, won a very narrow victory in a process that was described as ‘suspicious’. The party won 34 of the 67 seats in the National Assembly.

Barletta was forced to stand down by the military in 1985 and was replaced by his First Vice-President, Eric Arturo Delvalle. By this time Noriega had been implicated in the murder of an opposition candidate, Hugo Spadafora and was involved in drug-dealing and money-laundering.

In the 1989 election the PRD supported the National Liberation Coalition (COLINA) candidate, Carlos Alberto Duque Jaén, who lost to Guillermo Endara but the election was annulled. The Americans subsequently invaded the country, arrested Noriega and installed Endara as President. The PRD had been apologists to the goings on of Noriega but retained its 10 seats in the National Assembly.

By 1990 a new set of leaders for the party had emerged and distanced themselves from the Noriega years. The restructuring, which included introducing primaries for electing candidates for government positions, was successful. In the 1994 general election the party supported Ernesto Pérez Balladares as part of the United People Alliance (APU). He won with 33.30% of the vote and the party won 30 seats in the 72 seat national Assembly.

Although the party’s presidential candidate did not win in 1999 the party did increase its number of seats to 34 and they did even better in 2004 when it went up to 41 seats in the 78 seat National Assembly. They emerged as the largest party and their candidate Martín Torrijos of the New Fatherland (PN) alliance won the presidency with 47.44% of the vote.

In 2009 the party supported Balbina Herrera as part of the One Country for All (UPPT) alliance. Herrera was the favourite to win but revelations of links to Manuel Noriega and suggestions that she was a ‘Chavista’ supporter (Hugo Chavez of Venezuela) damaged both her and the PRD. She lost badly and the PRD were reduced to 26 seats although this still made them the largest party in the National Assembly.

The Democratic Revolutionary Party is a member of Socialist International.

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