Supermarket tycoon leads Panama presidential race
PANAMA CITY, April 2 |
PANAMA CITY, April 2 (Reuters) - A month before Panama's presidential election, supermarket tycoon Ricardo Martinelli maintained a comfortable lead over the ruling party contender, according to a survey released on Thursday.
Pollster Ipsos put Martinelli 11 points ahead of Balbina Herrera, the Revolutionary Democratic Party candidate, whose support has waned amid allegations of shady campaign financing and voters' discontent over crime and inflation.
According to Ipsos, Martinelli's lead was narrower -- 6 points less -- than in similar polls conducted in February and March.
But Ipsos project director, Adriana Mora, told Reuters the difference was not a big change in trend and may have been influenced by the inclusion of voters in difficult-to-reach rural areas, which had been excluded in previous surveys.
Former president Guillermo Endara was a distant third ahead of the May 3 election.
Martinelli, the Democratic Change Party candidate, has promised massive infrastructure spending to help Panama weather the global economic crisis.
The Central American country's economy grew by more than 7 percent each year between 2004 and 2008, driven by booming U.S.-Asia trade through the Panama Canal and construction.
The economy has been among the strongest in Latin America in recent years, but growth slowed drastically in the last few months due to a fall in international trade.
The Ipsos survey of 1,082 adults was conducted between March 28 and 31 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. (Reporting by Sean Mattson)
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