By David Franco
On May 21st, with 51.21% of the total vote, Danilo Medina of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (DLP) secured a narrow victory in the Dominican Republic’s presidential elections amidst accusations that his party influenced the campaign through interference and vote rigging.
A former Secretary of State in two of three of Leonel Fernandez’s administrations (1996-2000 and 2004-2006), Medina ran as the continuation candidate cementing the DLP’s quasi hegemony in the Caribbean country. The opposition front-runner Hipolito Mejia, leader of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (DRP) and Dominican Republic’s President between 2000 and 2004, finally accepted defeat on May 23rd.
In a country where presidential elections are usually conducted in a climate of violence (for example, the presidential elections of 2008 resulted in several deaths and a number of injuries), the relatively low incidence of violent protests this time has come as a positive sign. However, the fact that Medina obtained such a narrow victory amidst what leading international organisations and observers have labelled as fraudulent practices during the election campaign raises questions about the state of the country’s fragile democracy.