Dominican Republic vote to go forward regardless of coronavirus risk


Voters within the Dominican Republic are set to defy rising coronavirus infections to decide on a brand new president in an election that would finish 16 years of unbroken rule by the centre-left Dominican Liberation Party (PLD).  

Opposition candidate Luis Abinader is favorite in Sunday’s election, having taken a commanding lead in opinion polls regardless of being pressured to desert his marketing campaign after he examined optimistic for COVID-19.

Abinader, a 52-year-old businessman, recovered sufficiently to shut out his marketing campaign at a rally on Wednesday.

“Change is coming and the PLD is going,” he promised a crowd of a whole bunch of his supporters, allowed to collect after the federal government eased a lockdown.  

A Gallup ballot offers Abinader, from the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) greater than 53 p.c of voter intentions, 20 factors forward of the ruling PLD celebration’s Gonzalo Castillo. Another ballot offers Abinader a slimmer 12 level margin.  

Castillo, a former public works minister, is standing for the PLD as a result of outgoing President Danilo Medina can not search one other time period beneath the Republic’s structure.

Dominican republic election

Ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) Gonzalo Castillo (left); opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) candidate Luis Abinader [File: Erika Santelices/AFP]

“The Dominican people should remember that a president is elected in one day, but the consequences last for four years,” Castillo advised a crowd of his supporters within the city of Monte Plata.

Former president Leonel Fernandez, 66, trails in third place with 8.6 p.c. Fernandez dominated for a complete of three four-year phrases between 1996 and 2012.  

Three different candidates are contesting the presidency from minor events. 

Election formed by corruption and pandemic

The Dominican Republic has a poor document on corruption, rating 137th out of 180 nations on Transparency International’s corruption index.

It has been notably key situation on this election cycle after protests in recent times over the involvement of some native officers in a Latin America-wide fraud scandal involving the Brazilian development Odebrecht. The company big has admitted to doling out $92m in bribes within the Domincan Republic in change for successful public works contracts.  

Meanwhile, election’s campaigning has been not like every other within the tourist-magnet Caribbean republic’s historical past, overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the nation’s inhabitants of 10 million laborious.

The Republic – which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti – has registered greater than 34,000 infections from the coronavirus, with greater than 800 deaths, in keeping with an AFP information company tally. 

Luis Abinader presidential election

Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) candidate Luis Abinader is a favorite in Sunday’s election [File: Reuters]

The outbreak pressured Medina’s authorities to declare a nationwide lockdown, banning massive public gatherings and shutting borders – an enormous financial blow to one of many strongest rising economies within the area.

A state of emergency was lifted solely this week as events made a closing drive for votes.

‘Come what might’

The election date has already been pushed again from May 17 however will go forward “come what may” on Sunday, Julio Cesar Castanos, the president of the Central Electoral Board, has mentioned. 

The authority’s recommendation to voters: “Put your mask on and get out and vote.”

Despite well being protocols being put in place at polling stations, Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas mentioned it might be “practically impossible” to not have information outbreaks of COVID-19.  

“We have to get beyond this line of 5th of July, hoping that there won’t be an overflow of cases and that we will be able to respond,” the minister mentioned.  

The pandemic has already hit polling by the Republic’s 600,000 abroad voters – representing almost Eight p.c of the electoral roll.  

Most reside within the United States, Spain and Puerto Rico, the place polling has been going down. However, expatriates in Italy and Panama haven’t been authorised to vote due to coronavirus restrictions in place there.