What We're Watching: Panama’s Election and A Fresh Old Face in Argentina

Panama's election – On Sunday, voters in Panama will head to the polls to choose a new president. Corruption looms large in the first election since the 2016 release of the Panama Papers exposed the involvement of Panamanian banks and politicians in money laundering and transnational kickback schemes. But one conspicuously absent issue is: China. Panama and Beijing have become a lot closer in recent years, in part because of the Central American nation's critical position in global trade (the canal, yes). We're watching to see not only who wins the election, but how the next president balances between Panama's traditional allies in Washington and a more assertive China.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's poll numbers – Things just keep getting worse for Argentine President Mauricio Macri. A business-friendly centrist who rose to power in 2015, Mr. Macri is expected to seek reelection in October. But the economy is collapsing around him and now polls show that his likely opponent, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, would beat him in a head-to-head runoff by a whopping 9 points. That's true even though Ms. Kirchner favors a return to questionable protectionist policies and currently faces charges for bribery, embezzlement, and money laundering.

What We're Ignoring: King Thai's the Knot and A War on Weekends

A royal wedding in Thailand – Thai King in Waiting Maha Vajiralongkorn announced this week that he's gotten married, just days before his long-awaited coronation. The lucky bride is Suthida Tidjai, a former flight attendant promoted to a position within the royal guard and given a generalship in the Thai military. We are ignoring this because, for one thing, she is Vajiralongkorn's fourth wife (watch out Larry King!), but mainly because the bigger story in Thailand is that social tensions are still high following elections in which the military junta that runs the country is accused of rigging the vote. Monarchic nuptials seem like a distraction.

Italy's War on the War on Weekends – The populist coalition of Lega and the Five Star Movement is now debating a measure that would force stores to close on Sundays, in order to get Italians to spend more time in church and with their families. We are ignoring this, because for one thing, anyone who has spent time in Italy knows that Italian shopkeepers are perfectly capable of making themselves scarce on Sunday without a formal law. But more importantly, the measure could cost some 2 billion euros in tax revenue and imperil 150,000 jobs.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.