Panama POLITICAL FORCES
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
Political rally with poster of Torrijos
Opposition march in Panama City, August 1987
General Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno, August 1987
During the first decades of independence, Panamanian politics were largely dominated by traditional, upper class families in Panama City. By the 1940s, however, the populist nationalism of Arnulfo Arias and the growing strength of the National Police (later the National Guard and then the FDP) had begun a steady process of reducing the oligarchy's ability to control events. Following World War II, students and, to a lesser extent, labor groups became more active in national politics. The 1968 military coup, which brought Torrijos to power, represented both the ascendancy of the military as the preeminent political force in Panama and a further diminution in the influence of traditional political parties and elite families. At the same time, the growth of the Panamanian economy gave business and professional organizations greater importance and potential influence.
From the 1964 riots until the 1978 ratification of the Panama Canal Treaties, the issue of United States control over the Panama Canal dominated the national political scene (see The 1964 Riots , ch. 1). When treaty ratification largely removed that issue, the focus shifted back to internal political conditions, and pressures, both domestic and international, for a return to civilian rule mounted steadily. Internal political dynamics had changed fundamentally, however, during the Torrijos era. His death in 1981 unleashed a struggle for power within the military, between the military and civilians, and among civilians, which has continued and intensified in subsequent years.
Data as of December 1987
NOTE: The information regarding Panama on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Panama POLITICAL FORCES information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Panama POLITICAL FORCES should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.