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DR election: the real winner?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

WHAT Danilo Medina won last month's election, but the real winner could be outgoing president Leonel Fernández.

WHY Medina's main job may be keeping the presidential chair warm for Fernández, who has been in power since 2004, and who probably wants to hold the top office again between 2016 and 2024. Medina has had differences with Fernández, against whom he ran, in an attempt to win the nomination of the Dominican Liberation Party four years ago. Nevertheless, he served as Fernández' Chief of Staff during the past administration, and accepted as his running mate Fernández' wife, Margarita Cedeño, who for the next four years will be his Vice president. The constitution of the Dominican Republic lets a former president serve up two additional four-year terms, following a term out of office.

WHAT NEXT Medina's win is likely to mean Dominican politics as usual, in which the government promotes a pro-business agenda, in the expectation that benefits will trickle down to poor people. The PLD (using the party's Spanish initials) in addition tends to invest in big projects, including roads, power generation, and - recently - a subway in Santo Domingo. The results of the policy have been mixed, with the upper and middle classes supporting the PLD against the more populist Democratic Revolutionary Party. For his part, Medina barely got the 50% vote needed to avoid a runoff against second-place finisher Hipólito Mejía. With low levels of spending on social programs, coupled with high levels of unemployment and crime, Medina and his administration will need to work hard, if they expect to be returned to power in four years, whoever the party’s candidate turns out to be.

For more information, please contact Esteban Alvarez, at [email protected]