Dominican Republic: Will Danilo Medina Get Out Under Leonel Fernandez’s Shadow?
ECONOMIC storms have battered the Caribbean of late, blowing away the tourists and remittances on which most islands depend. Most of the region has barely seen any growth since 2009. Several governments have been washed away by the slump: in the past six months unhappy voters have kicked out the ruling parties in Jamaica and the Bahamas. But the sun still shines in the Dominican Republic, where growth has continued at over 5% a year. On May 20th Dominicans duly rewarded the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). But only just: Danilo Medina, its presidential candidate, won 51% of the vote, amid allegations of fraud.
Mr Medina faced a weak opponent in Hipólito Mejía of the Dominican Revolution Party, who campaigned under the enigmatic slogan “Here’s Daddy”. Mr Mejía mishandled a banking crisis when he was president between 2000 and 2004. He cried fraud this week. Observers from the Organisation of American States certified the election result but confirmed reports of vote-buying. Participación Ciudadana, a local NGO, says that both main parties offered between 500 and 2,500 pesos ($13 to $65) to buy people’s voting cards. No one knows the scale of the fraud, but the electoral authorities received 400,000 applications for duplicate cards in the weeks before the poll. The government’s vote-buying appeared greatly to exceed that of the opposition, claims Francisco Álvarez of Participación Ciudadana.