Hotly Contested Dominican Republic Elections

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) - A former president whose single term ended with the deepest economic crisis in the modern history of the Dominican Republic is seeking redemption Sunday as he faces an old rival in what is expected to be a close election to lead the Caribbean's top tourist destination.

Former President Hipolito Mejia, a gaffe-prone populist, trounced rival Danilo Medina when they last faced off in 2000. But Mejia's four-year presidential term ended in disaster, with a banking crisis that sunk the economy and caused so much misery and scarcity that tens of thousands of people fled the country and voters cast him out of office.

The pair face off again in Sunday's election and several polls show ruling party-candidate Medina could win with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote, thus avoiding a runoff.

After eight years under President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Liberation Party, or PLD, the question is whether enough time has gone by for crucial swing voters to give Mejia another chance, said Rosario Espinal, director of the Latin American Studies Center at Temple University in Philadelphia.

``The country is not in a crisis like it was in 2003 and 2004. It's a very different situation,'' said Espinal. ``But there is a lot of disenchantment with the government, especially with the high cost of living.''

Espinal, a leading political analyst of the country, said the election will turn on the narrow slice of the electorate who are not affiliated with either the PLD or Mejia's opposition Dominican Revolutionary Party.

``The question is whether they are more tired of the current government or more fearful of what might happen under Mejia,'' she said.

Fernandez is not running for a third consecutive term. Medina, 60, is a party stalwart who has promised to improve upon but not make any major changes to the policies of the outgoing president, who has embarked on a massive public works campaign that included a subway system modeled after the one in New York.

Ramona Hernandez, director of the Dominican Studies Institute of the City University of New York, said it will be in part a generational struggle between those who remember the crisis, which was set off by the failure of three banks and resulted in a nearly 20 percent drop in GDP, and those who never lived through it.

``People between 40 and 60 years old, they haven't forgotten. He has a history,'' Hernandez said of Mejia. ``But he has a chance with younger people.''

In addition to president, Dominicans are electing a vice president from a field that includes the heavily favored First Lady, Margarita Cedeno de Fernandez, and seven members of the Chamber of Deputies who will represent people who have settled overseas. Tens of thousands are expected to cast ballots in places with large numbers of Dominicans, including New York, New Jersey, Florida and Puerto Rico.

Politics in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, largely revolves around the PLD and Mejia's Dominican Revolutionary Party, or PRD. Both were founded as Marxist parties by Juan Bosch, president for a year in 1963 until he was ousted in a coup. The two have come to embrace free trade, generally pro-business policies and close ties to the U.S. The PLD is considered ``center right,'' largely because it's in power, and the PRD is said to be center-left but the differences largely turn on personality, loyalty and patronage.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Pacquiao a national symbol of hope in Philippines
    Pacquiao a national symbol of hope in Philippines

    Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao is idolised by tens of millions in the poverty-afflicted Philippines both for his punching power and as a national icon of hope after rising from the streets to the pinnacle of world boxing. Known to his countrymen in the Asian archipelago as "The National Fist", Pacman fights undefeated American Floyd Mayweather on May 2 to decide who is the world's best "pound-for-pound" boxer. To most of the Philippines' population of almost 100 million, Pacquiao, winner of an …

  • Indonesia's Jokowi to speak to attorney general about Philippines death row convict

    Indonesia President Joko Widodo will consult with the attorney general on legal issues surrounding the case of death row convict Mary Jane Veloso, the Philippines presidential spokesman said on Monday. The statement came after the Philippines President Benigno Aquino met Widodo at the ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur and appealed for "humanitarian consideration" in the case. Widodo was sympathetic and was consulting with the Indonesian attorney general on the legal issues, he said. …

  • Halt Indonesia drug executions until graft claims probed: Australia
    Halt Indonesia drug executions until graft claims probed: Australia

    Australia on Monday urged Indonesia to ensure all legal processes have been cleared of corruption before executing two of its nationals, as bribery allegations surfaced regarding their drug smuggling trial. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi on Sunday evening while Prime Minister Tony Abbott has written to President Joko Widodo to again plead for the executions to be halted. "Bali Nine" drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan could face …

  • Pagasa: Drought may worsen
    Pagasa: Drought may worsen

    The drought in 12 already dry areas in the country is expected to worsen as the summer season peaks next month, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. In an advisory, PAGASA said the provinces of Albay, Bataan, Batangas, Biliran, Cavite, Cebu, Ilocos Norte, Leyte, Misamis Occidental, Pampanga, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur will continue to receive “way below” or “below normal” rainfall in May. PAGASA defines …

  • Maximum restraint for Phl troops in West Phl Sea
    Maximum restraint for Phl troops in West Phl Sea

    The military has advised its pilots conducting surveillance in the West Philippine Sea to exercise maximum restraint even if they are being bullied by Chinese troops. Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala said all actions of the pilots should be consistent with the declaration of conduct signed by claimant countries. Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the Philippines should remain on moral high ground when it comes to the territorial dispute. A …

  • MMDA simulates rescue march after quake, tsunami
    MMDA simulates rescue march after quake, tsunami

    The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) yesterday led the annual rescue march from Quezon City to Manila, giving rescue volunteers a glimpse of possible scenarios if the metropolis is hit by a strong quake or is inundated by a tsunami. Cora Jimenez, MMDA general manager, said 700 volunteer rescuers walked from the Quezon City memorial circle to the Bonifacio monument in front of the Manila city hall to simulate a response-exercise to a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. Renato Solidum, …

  • Islamic State threatens Mindanao, Phl tells Asean
    Islamic State threatens Mindanao, Phl tells Asean

    Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario bared yesterday before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reports of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threat to the Philippines through the Black Flag Movement in Mindanao. Speaking before ASEAN foreign ministers, Del Rosario said the ISIS threat to Philippine security is real rather than imagined because of the Black Flag Movement’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. …

  • ‘Chinese reclamation affecting Phl’s energy security bid’
    ‘Chinese reclamation affecting Phl’s energy security bid’

    China’s occupation and buildup of its military structures in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea is causing the country’s top energy official to get the jitters as the encroachment is seen as a huge dent on the Philippines’ efforts to achieve energy security. “It is a concern but if we don’t bring it to the United Nations, where will we bring it? We cannot bang heads with them,” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla told The STAR in an interview over the weekend. The US Energy …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options