The two major parties that have survived thus far, the tough political ambiance in DR, will have an important role in the coming national presidential elections, this coming May 20, are the PLD (Partido de Liberación Dominicana) and the PRD (Partido Revolucionario Dominicano) both moderate left of center.
Traditionally the US Republican party has sympathized with Balaguer’s own moderate right PRSC (Partido Reformista Social Cristiano) and the US Democratic party with the PRD, after President carter’s support of the 1978 (second PRD victory after Juán Bosch first in 1963), ending Balaguer’s 12 year rule, and further reelection pretensions.
The candidates are Hipolito Mejía -for the PRD- and Danilo Medina for the PLD (Party presently in power).
Both candidates come from rural backgrounds, and are hard working self- made individuals, that have devoted themselves to presidential politics. Hipolito Mejía from Gurabo, Santiago, a professional agronomist, was president for the PRD in 2000-2004 defeating the incumbent Leonel Fernandez from the PLD.
His government was tainted by numerous scandals concerning graft, drug trade, and major bank failures, mainly due to political ineptitude. He committed over 300 Dominican special forces troops as part of the coalition of forces, for operation Iraqui Freedom, the latest US-Iraq war in 2003. Danilo Medina, has a chemistry degree, also is an economist, has held several government posts including congressional representative, majority leader, secretary of the presidency (Chief of Staff) for Leonel Fernandez in 2004-2008, and was generally regarded as a "king maker".
His origins where also rural, originating from the deep south (San Juan de la Maguana), and had a long association with ex-president Juan Bosch. His major faux pas, in the PLD was that he opposed Leonel Fernandez in the 2008 primary election, being defeated, in his own words, "by the state," alluding that LF, the standing president used government funds, to promote his own reelection. (A usual and customary habit in the DR).
In the numerous and frequent "polls" that appear in the daily front pages of the DR newspapers, victory is awarded to both candidates by a slight percentage of votes. In the DR there are about 6 million registered and able voters, out of a population of 10 million persons. The active military and police can not exercise their vote, neither can the millions of foreign residents.
Most historical analysts agree that the realities are different than the polls advertise:
1. Both parties are tied with 45% of the vote each.
2. Women prefer the candidadcy of Danilo medina (15% more than the PRD).
3. Majority of traditional business men prefer the PRD and Hipolito Mejia. This is surprising, but logical, because the PLD and their government officials are competing head to head with big business interests, and DR businessmen dislike politicians as competitors.
4. US has not singled out a preferential candidate due to obvious reasons, but the "scuttle butt" is that the US dislikes the same governments for long periods, and frequent same party reelections, meaning that they would like a change to the PRD.
5. The PLD officials, high ranking police and military have been engaged in highly publisized drug and money laundering activities, including the latest international graft and ethics violation regarding PLD senator Felix Bautista and the Haitian government.
6. If the PLD loses the elections, LF will exit the local political scene, possibly leave the country for two years, and then return for the 2016 elections.
7. There has been an enormous requests for duplicate cedulas (the first two are free), which are the official government and voter ID and proof of national status, leading to suspicions of attempts to commercialize the selling of the votes by DR citizens. The day of the elections the cedulas are bought by the parties for an average of RD $1000 pesos, and then returned at the end of the day.
8. The fund raising for both parties have been traditionally funded by businessmen, giving to both, but slightly more to the preferred party.
9. The big money supporters are hedging to the PRD, including big banks, except the state owned Banco de Reservas, agricultural and sugar monopolies, including La Romana, without Carlos Morales. Again because they will have a freer hand to operate with the less stringent PRD.
10. Drug lords again are backing the PRD, because they will have to pay less money in tolls to the PRD, and their overhead will be less than with the present PLD.
11. The PRSC (Balaguer's old party) has split political interests, some are backing the PRD, and others the PLD, the PRD votes going to Hipolito from the PRSC voters will not show, unlike the PRSC votes for Danilo Madina.
12. If the PRD loses, Miguel Vargas will be ousted as president of the party, and the loss blamed on him. If the PRD wins, the outcome of Vargas maybe similar, and he will be kicked out.
13. Unlike the PRD, the PLD is united and compact behind Danilo Medina. Their organizational skills are flawless and each head of every single voting district, (there are 14,000) knows exactly where their voters are, their names and addresses and will make an effort for them to get to vote.
14. By the same token as in war and in love, the PLD will try to difficult and impede the voting of the opponents of the PRD and will welcome cross over voting, and buying votes.
So let's review the numbers now: Out of 6 million possible votes and a needed majority of 50% plus one, (not 51%) for a first win victory, we are at a tie with each party having 2.7 million votes, so in order to win the elections, the triumphant party will need the undecided 300 thousand votes of the remaining voters. That is assuming the other minority parties remain under 3% of the votes. That is without counting the votes of the DR diaspora which could be the deciding factor, and they mostly prefer Danilo Medina and the PLD.
It is expected that after the elections a "house cleaning" or purge, will commence and many entrenched corrupt government officials will be chased after, except those that have immunity from prosecution. The final results will be hard for anyone to speculate who the winner will be, but the sense is that general public wants a change in the status quo, blaming the present government for all their present ills.
The PRD needs to desperately win this election in order to survive as a major party, until 2016. The PLD is trying to maintain a constitutional monarchy, and has been in power now for 12 years, so we will have to wait until the end of May, to watch the final episode of this political match.