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Daily News - 17 May 1998

PRD sweeps congressional elections
The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano achieved an overwhelming victory in the 16 May congressional and municipal elections. In the elections, Dominicans voted to choose 30 senators, 149 deputies, 115 mayors and 756 city councilmen.
The PRD in the first bulletins issued by the Junta Central Electoral lead in the vote count for senator seats in all but five provinces.
The incumbent Partido de la Liberación Dominicana could only count as theirs the provinces of Elías Piña, Salcedo and La Romana. The Partido Reformista Social Cristiano reduced its participation in the Senate to two provinces, San Pedro de Macorís and La Altagracia.
At noontime, it seemed unlikely the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana would even achieve the sufficient deputy seats - 49 seats or 33% of the 149 deputy seats - to have veto power in the Chamber of Deputies.
In the 1994-1998 Congress, the PLD has one senator, the PRSC 14 senators and the PRD 18 senators. In the Chamber of Deputies, the PLD has 13 deputies, the PRSC has 50 and the PRD 57.
The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano attributed their strong vote toll to the strength of the party. Party followers say that a grand majority of PRD voters turned out to vote as a tribute to party leader Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez who died barely a week before the elections.

Why the PLD did poorly
The Partido de la Liberación Dominicana members attributed the party's poor showing to errors at the end of the campaign - such as party secretary general Lidio Cadet's handling of the death of Air Force General Luis Santiago Pérez at the hands of PLD fanatics, and the untimely statement of President Leonel Fernández during a meeting of international intellectuals in which he favored an increase of taxes. Both errors were capitalized by the PRD.
The PLD said that their former ally PRSC's anti-PLD campaign slogan, "los come sólos," caught on and played on the arrogance of several government officers and PLD politicians. Dr. Joaquín Balaguer campaigned himself in Santiago during the final days of the campaign urging Reformistas to vote for "rice and beans, but not with eggplant (the purple color of the vegetable was in reference to the PLD). Balaguer in the 1996 presidential elections urged his followers to vote for the PLD. The PRSC subtle support of the PRD is said to be responsible for the PRD victories in La Vega, San Cristóbal and Santiago, for example.
Others say that the PLD directors felt that with money all could be achieved. The PLD spent millions in this campaign hoping to position its candidates.

Balaguer looses political influence
The 1998 congressional and municipal election is seen as the end of the Dr. Balaguer's decisive political influence. No longer will it be necessary to consult with Dr. Balaguer to pass a bill through Congress.
Some 4,129,554 Dominicans were able to vote in the 10,174 voting stations all around the country. A high abstention characterized this election, though, with early reports estimating abstention at around 40%.
Among factors causing the abstention were that in this election, with Dr. José Francisco Peña Gómez absent, it was not necessary to vote against someone. But neither did the candidates motivate the persons to vote for. Political analysts say the young set did not vote as hoped. Also, the early Saturday morning rain affected the vote of women in Santo Domingo.

PRD celebrates its victory
Milagros Ortiz Bosch is the sure winner of the senate seat and Johnny Ventura will be the next mayor of Santo Domingo.
The PRD proclaimed its victory, the PLD admitted its electoral defeat, and the PRSC congratulated the PRD. All congratulated the Dominican people for the civic behavior throughout the elections. Thousands of PRD followers visited Peña Gómez's tomb in the Cristo Redentor Cemetery after the elections.

Election surprises
There were many surprises in this election. The Gallup polls and others didn't hit it on the dot. Factors that may have contributed to the difference in the final results to the polls were the last minute death of Dr. Peña Gómez and last minute participation of Dr. Balaguer in the campaign.
The most surprising results were the victory of college rector and former Minister of Finances Jose Rafael Abinader in Santiago, versus PLD candidate Dr. Julián Ramia Serulle. And the win of radiobroadcaster Cuqui Medrano versus favorite Euclides Sánchez.
Another change in Congress, is the likely defeat of Senator Florentino Carvajal Suero, representing Elías Piña and whom had been a congressman for the PRSC for 32 years.

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