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Daily News - 18 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.
As per Bulletin 11 of the Junta Central Electoral, the PRD obtained absolute majority in both houses of Congress - the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The PRD won 24 of 30 senate seats, or 80%. In the Chamber of Deputies, the PRD won a minimum of 85 of the 149 positions, or 57%. The PRD also won the majority of the municipalities, 89 of a total of 115, or 77%. For the 1998 Congress, the number of deputy seats increased from 120 to 149, due to the increase in the population.
In the present 1994-1998 Congress, the PRD has 18 senators. In the Chamber of Deputies, the PRD has 57 deputies.

How the PLD did
The government Partido de la Liberación Dominicana had won Senate seats for the provinces of Elías Piña, Salcedo, La Romana and El Seibo. As per this bulletin, the PLD had won 49 deputy seats.
In the 1994-1998 Congress, the PLD has one senator, and 13 deputies.
Press reports indicated that the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana could achieve the sufficient deputy seats - 50 seats or 33.3% of the 149 deputy seats - to have veto power in the Chamber of Deputies. That is, if the President vetoes a bill, opposition party representatives in the Chamber of Deputies would not be able to override the veto.

Why the PRD won and the PLD lost
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, the party's candidate to mayor for Santo Domingo, who died barely a week before the elections. Furthermore, they say that the PRD candidates were more attractive to voters than the PLD candidates. Many of the PLD candidates were former PLD government officers that resigned their posts to run for congress or municipal positions. PRD followers, say the vote was a rejection of the government exercise of the Fernández administration.
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.
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.
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 had urged his followers to vote for the PLD, which resulted in a victory for that party. The PRSC subtle support of the PRD is said to be responsible for the PRD victories in La Vega and San Cristóbal, for example.

The fall of the influence of Dr. Balaguer
The Partido Reformista Social Cristiano reduced its participation in the Senate to two provinces, San Pedro de Macorís and La Altagracia. In the Chamber of Deputies, the PRSC only won 19 seats. In the present congress, the PRSC has 14 senators and 50 deputies and presides over the Senate.
The 1998 congressional and municipal election is seen as the end of the Dr. Balaguer's decisive political influence.
The province of San Pedro de Macorís had the highest abstention rate of the nation, with almost 66% not voting.
No longer will it be necessary to consult with Dr. Balaguer to pass a bill through Congress. And a PRSC representative will not preside over either house.

High abstention
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. The abstention surpassed 46%, reflecting in part the rejection of the population to its politicians. Polls earlier had shown that Dominicans have a poor opinion of their politicians. In Santo Domingo, abstention for the congressional vote was 60%. Only 267,225 persons voted in the National District (Santo Domingo). In the presidential elections of 1996, abstention was only 20%.
Even the PRD received 30% less of the vote than in 1996 presidential elections. 400,000 less people voted for PRD candidates in these elections than in the 1996 elections.
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. Young people and women were the categories of voters that most abstained.
Also, the early Saturday morning rain affected the vote of women in Santo Domingo.

PRD celebrates victory, PLD admits defeat
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.

Surprises in the election
There were many surprises in this election. The most reputable polls failed to predict the outcome. 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 defeat of PRSC Enrique Sued by PRD's Hector Grullón for mayor of Santiago. Also the win of radiobroadcaster Cuqui Medrano versus favorite Euclides Sánchez for senator for La Vega.
Another change in Congress, is the defeat of Senator Florentino Carvajal Suero, representing Elías Piña and whom had been a congressman for the PRSC for 32 years. He lost to Manuel Arciniegas of the PLD.
The Partido Revolucionario Institucional, a party founded by PRD dissident, the late Jacobo Majluta, and which in the 1998 congressional elections was an ally to the PRD, surprised by winning in the municipality of Laguna Salada. In Laguna Salada, the PRI obtained 42.5% of the vote (3,322 votes), defeating runner ups PRSC, PLD and even ally PRD. This is the second time in eight years that the PRI wins a municipality. The PRI also won a seat in the Chamber of Deputies and a city councilman. The PRI also won the senate seat for Hato Mayor, with Ivan Rondón Sánchez, and a Santo Domingo deputy seat, with Stormi Reynoso.

PRD wins in Puerto Plata
The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano swept in the congressional and municipal elections of Puerto Plata. Ginette Bournigal, wife of a former PRSC senator for Puerto Plata, won with 50.6% of the vote and businessman Ramon Ortiz with 47.4% of the vote won the municipality. Present mayor Carlos Troche, who sought to be re-elected on the PRSC ticket, received only 22% of the vote.

17 senators re-elected
Most of the present senators sought to be re-elected. But only 13 were chosen. 17 new congressmen will make up the Senate. Of these 14 are members of the PRD and three of the PLD. The new PRD senator-elects are Antonio Rosario (San Cristóbal), Juan Heriberto Medrano Basora (La Vega), José Rafael Abinader (Santiago), Fernando Alvarez Bogaert (Valverde), Milton Ray Guevara (Samana), Vicente Castillo (Peravia), Tony Villar (San Juan de la Maguana), Julio Antonio González (Duarte), Ginnette Bournigal (Puerto Plata), Bernardo Alemán (Montecristi), Rafael Jiménez (Dajabón), Enrique López (Monseñor Nouel), Angel D. Pérez (Pedernales).
Iván Rondón Sánchez (Hato Mayor) is the new PRI representative in Congress.
The new senators for the PLD are Enrique Martinez (La Romana), Gerardo Aquino (El Seibo) and Manuel Arciniegas (Elías Piña).
Re-elected for the PRD are Milagros Ortiz Bosch (Distrito Nacional), Ramón Alburquerque (Monte Plata), Andrés Bautista García (Espaillat), Cesar Díaz Filpo (Azua), Darío Gómez Martínez (Santiago Rodríguez), Dabobgerto Rodríguez (Independencia), Francisco Jimén3z Reyes (Bahoruco), Jesús Vásquez (María Trinidad Sánchezx), José González Espinosa (Barahona) and Vicente Sánchez Baret (Sánchez Ramírez).
For the PLD, Bautista Rojas, who replaced Jaime David Fernández, when the later was elected Vice President, repeats for the PLD.
For the PRSC the re-elected senators are Amable Aristy Castro (La Altagracia) and José Hazim Frappier (San Pedro de Macorís).

PRD wins in Santo Domingo
Present senator for Santo Domingo, Milagros Ortíz Bosch of the PRD is the virtual senator elect for Santo Domingo. Co-party member, merengue orchestra director and former congressman and deputy mayor, Johnny Ventura won in Santo Domingo. In the National District, 291,782 people voted for the PRD (62.5%) and 139,689 or 29.92% voted for the PLD. The PRSC candidates achieved 7.28% of the vote with 33,995 persons voting in their favor.

President Fernández to speak in UN
President Leonel Fernández will travel to New York City on June 8 to participate in a United Nations conference on drug trafficking. He will speak at an Extraordinary General Assembly on the application of a multinational strategy to combat drug trafficking, that will be held June 8-10. This is the second time, the Dominican President will speak at the United Nations. The conference was called by Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo. During the meeting, countries will discuss a multilateral evaluation of individual nations efforts to combat drug trafficking. The experiences of some nations that have legalized drug consumption will also be analyzed.

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