The Government of Panama

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Court of Justice, which consists of nine members. Panama's president appoints the justices and the legislators ratify the appointment. From there, the justice serves a ten-year term. "The Supreme Court oversees five superior courts, three courts of appeal, and all other tribunals, including municipal courts" (Encarta, 2002). The election process, including voter registration as well as the actions of political parties are overseen by an independent Electoral Tribunal (Encarta, 2002).

Panama consists of nine provinces, each of which is run by a governor who is appointed by the president. These provinces can be broken down further into 65 districts and 505 sub-districts. Voters in each respective district elect mayors and councilors. Generally, mayors have control of the cities but they do not have much power in rural areas due to the fact that funds are scarce. The goal of most local governments is to attain the assistance of the governors as well as the national government.

Native American groups such as the Kuna and Ngobe-Bugle discuss matters with the national government and they are given the freedom to "conduct affairs" in their reservations (Encarta, 2002).

Political parties in Panama do not focus on philosophies or specific organizations. On the contrary, they are based mainly around their leaders and their beliefs. Due to this, the parties do not function with consistency. In fact, over the past 50 years, nearly half a dozen political parties have been successful while all others have failed. A majority of the parties, however, were not founded until the 1990s due to the fact that politics were banned in 1968 when the military took over the government (Encarta, 2002).

In most cases, especially during times of elections, parties join forces to gain more ground as well as more power. The Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), for example, formed...