Medina Wins Presidency in Dominican Republic
May 25, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly
Danilo Medina beat rival and former President Hipolito Mejia in elections for the Dominican presidency on May 20. Medina secured 51.21 percent of the vote while Mejia won 46.95 percent, AFP reported. Although six candidates participated in the election, only Medina and Mejia were favored to win the first round. With greater than 50 percent of votes, Medina won outright, without a run-off.
Medina, the candidate for the Dominican Liberation party (PLD), was chosen to run by outgoing President Leonel Fernandez. Fernandez spent US$2.6 billion on infrastructure in order to modernize the country and brought citizens greater access to transportation and hospitals. Despite Fernandez’s popularity, the Dominican constitution prohibits serving more than two terms. However, Fernandez’s wife, Margarita Cadeno, ran as the PLD vice presidential candidate.
Mejia and his party, the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) claimed that the Central Electoral Board engaged in fraudulent activities in support of Medina, including concealing voter sheets. In a statement to AFP, Mejia accused election authorities of tampering with the results: "The results offered to the country by the Central Electoral Board are the product of manipulation and abuse of power and are not an expression of the free will of the people, which is unacceptable." He called the Central Electoral Board “biased” and said that Dominican President Leonel Fernandez was guilty of “blatant interference,” citing a “throwback to the era of totalitarian governments.” Mejica also stated that government resources were used by Medina supporters to influence voters, the BBC reported. The PRD vice presidential candidate, Luis Abinader, said that the party would work on a report about the election regularities: “We are going to defend democracy and are going to show the country what really happened.”
Election observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) concluded that while vote-buying occurred in isolated cases, it did not affect the outcome of the election. Former Uruguayan President and head of the OAS observation team Tabare Vazquez deemed the elections a “fiesta for democracy.” The United States (US) also supported the outcome of the election, which US Ambassador Raul Yzaguirre called “a triumph of democracy.”
Ex-patriots’ votes may have played an important role in the outcome of the election, according to a BBC analyst. About five percent of the Dominican Republic’s over six million voters live abroad, about 200,000 of whom reside in the US.
Both Mejia and Medina campaigned on similar issues and are “very close ideologically,” Reuters reported. The candidates promoted improving the education system and creating jobs. The PRD and PLD both maintain close ties with the US and implement pro-business policies. Medina and Mejia ran against each other in the 2000 presidential race. Mejia won the presidency and served from 2000 to 2004.
Medina will be sworn in on August 16.
AFP - Defeated Dominican candidate protests vote result
Associated Press - Dominican election in dispute after apparent win
BBC - Dominican Republic vote: Hipolito Mejia decries result
BBC - Dominican Republic's Danilo Medina declares election win
Reuters - Ruling party candidate claims win in Dominican vote