18 May 2016
Volume 39, Number 19
The President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, has declared victory in the country’s Presidential elections held on May 15. Although the final result had not been announced when he did so because of delays in the manual count, the preliminary results had shown him leading in the count by a huge margin.
In its fifth bulletin published late on May 16, and with 66.9% of the votes counted, the Central Electoral Board (JCE) said that President Medina of the Partido de la Liberacion Dominicana (PLD) and allied parties had 61.57% of the votes cast while Luis Abinader of the Partido Revolucionario Moderno (PRM) had 35.37%. The margin was large enough to avoid a runoff, a first for the country. The remaining six candidates combined had about 3% of the vote, including the first two women running for the presidency in a Dominican election.
President Medina’s re-election for a second consecutive term was a reflection of the President’s success in delivering a record 7% GDP growth, the highest growth rate in the Americas. It also indicates widespread approval of the PLD government’s successful delivery of social programmes including school building and its spending on health care, the delivery of major infrastructural projects across the country, and signals a wish among the country’s growing middle class for stability and continued growth. The relatively weak showing by Mr Abinader of the PRM, despite his focus on public anger about corruption and crime, suggests that Dominicans were more focussed on maintaining their standard of living.
The final results, which had still not been announced nearly 48 hours after polls had closed, were blamed for tension between candidates that led to six deaths and short lived localised unrest in some provincial cities.
A left-of-centre economist, President Medina has enjoyed a high degree of popularity during much of his first four-year term. Although the PLD has been continuously in power since 2004, he will be the first Dominican Presidential candidate to have taken more than 60% of the popular vote in the first round of voting. Electoral rules were changed to allow him to run for a second consecutive term.
The election was partly marred by technical problems which delayed the opening of the voting centres and led to the Electoral Commission (JCE) authorising a one-hour extension of the vote.
The JCE said that 3,000 technicians had resigned at the last minute, affecting the management of the election. The head of the Organization of American States (OAS) observer mission, the former Colombian President, Andres Pastrana, said it was fortunate that the JCE had agreed to give prevalence to the traditional manual vote over the new electronic system.
Preliminary results show the ruling PLD party maintaining its control of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.
Earlier this year President Medina sets out his priorities for a second term.
In an address to the American Chamber of Commerce on March 30, he said that his goals would be ambitious but realistic, and would not place the country’s stability at risk.
Among the measures he spoke about were….
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