Dominican Republic Politics – A Brief Overview
Beginning in the early 1960s, however, many things began to change in the Dominican Republic. Per capita income in the late 1980s was four times what it had been in 1960. The country’s population was approximately 70 percent urban (the corresponding figure in 1960 was 30 percent), more literate (in about the same proportion), and more middle class. Political institutions had developed and had become more consolidated. The country’s international debt continued to be a major problem and a severe drain on the economy, but in general the Dominican Republic’s economic position within the international community was more stable than it had been in past decades. These changed conditions made the climate more conducive to democracy than it had been at any previous time.
Recent political history
The Dominican Republic has a multi-party political system with national elections every four years.
In two rounds of presidential elections in 1996, nearly 80% of eligible Dominican voters went to the polls. The leading parties in 1994 were the PRSC, linked to the International Christian Democratic political movement, whose candidate was President Joaquín Balaguer; the PRD, affiliated with the Socialist International, whose candidate was Jose Francisco Pena Gomez; and the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), whose candidate was former President Juan Bosch.
In the 1994 elections, international observers noted many irregularities in the voter lists, and the opposition PRD immediately charged the Central Electoral Board and the PRSC with fraud. A Verification Commission appointed by the Central Electoral Board, however, did not accept the PRD’s charges. By all estimates, total disenfranchised voters far exceeded the 22,281-vote margin of victory in favor of President Balaguer on 2 August 1994.
Domestic and international observers saw the 1996 election as transparent and fair.
After the first round in which Jacinto Peynado (PRSC) was eliminated, the PRSC with Joaquin Balaguer endorsed Leonel Fernández (PLD). Results in the second round, 45 days later on 30 June, were tabulated quickly, and although the victory margin was narrow (1.5%), it was never questioned. The transition from incumbent administration to incoming administration was smooth and ushered in a new, modern era in Dominican political life.
The elections held earlier this year saw Dr. Leonel Fernandez begin his 3rd term as Dominican president, after winning the election with over 57% of the vote at the first try, beating out PRD candidate Miguel Vargas Maldonado, the PRSC candidate Amable Aristy collected under 3% of the overall vote.