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Daily News - 21 September 1999

Poll shows Hipólito leads by seven points
The ruling Partido de la Liberación Dominicana held a press conference yesterday to release results of the Global Strategy Group poll of 1,000 Dominicans of voting age. The poll took place 4-8 September throughout the national territory. The poll shows that Hipólito Mejía of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) leads with 38% of the preference of the electorate, followed by Danilo Medina of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) with 31%, and Joaquín Balaguer of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano with 17%. Margin of error is 3%.
This year the leading Dominican press have not yet contracted polls (Listín/Sigma Dos, Hoy/Penn & Shoen and Rumbo/Gallup). Ramón Colombo, a political analyst, speculated on his morning radio talk show that this is because the publications, that are owned by major business groups, do not want to affect their interests by publishing surveys that would show the government party presidential candidate in disadvantage.
In its primaries, the PLD chose then Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina for candidate, versus the Vice President Jaime David Fernández, who polls then showed was better liked by voters outside of the PLD. Thus, the party has to work harder to market its candidate, who trails the popular outspoken Hipólito Mejía.
The president of Global Strategy Group, Alexander Jutkowitz presented the results. He, along with Technical Secretary of the Presidency Temístocles Montás, concluded that the results show that the presidential candidacy of Medina is strengthening and Medina is gaining on Mejía whose candidacy appears to have stagnated.
President Leonel Fernández was an underdog at this point during the 1996 campaign. Nevertheless, political analysts say that a repeat is not so easy as Medina is not Fernández. Fernández had the unified support of his party, the support of party leader Juan Bosch, and had been Vice Presidential candidate of the PLD in the 1994 election.
Mejía followers point to their own surveys that show the PRD candidate leads by more than 50%, followed by PRSC most likely candidate Joaquín Balaguer. These surveys show Medina in third place.

Less public school drop outs
Minister of Education says that the drop out rate of public school children has declined from 17% to 11% in the past three years, as proof of the renewed trust parents have in the public school system. Speaking at a breakfast at the Listin Diario newspaper, Minister of Education Ligia Amada Melo was critical of the many strikes promoted by the Dominican Association of Professors (ADP), despite the government's efforts to improve teachers' working conditions. The ADP has promoted three strikes in the first two weeks of classes.
Minister Melo said that public school teacher wages have doubled, with the budget for teachers wages going from RD$180 million to RD$381 million a year. Furthermore, she said the government invested RD$37 million in a hospital to serve 40,000 public school teachers, offers these medical insurance and opportunities to carry out post graduate studies with the government paying the bills. Moreso, the government has instated incentives based on duration on the job, distance from work centers and capacity. The teachers have been striking demanding the government pay the incentives in full as originally promised. The government has proposed a payment plan, which the ADP does not accept.
Minister of Education Melo explained that this year 246,000 more students enrolled in public schools. She said in the past three years, the government has built 165 new schools, adding 4,728 classrooms, but that there still is a deficit of 3,000 school rooms.

Electoral propaganda ruling controversy
The president of the Central Electoral Junta suggested that those that do not agree with the electoral advertising ruling published in newspapers on Monday take their complaints to the Supreme Court of Justice. Dr. Manuel Morel Cerda responded reacting to an opinion by Dr. Joaquín Balaguer (PRSC) who considers the ruling illegal. The propaganda ruling was passed by the JCE with the approval of delegates from the leading political parties, including the PRSC, says the JCE.
Hipólito Mejía, presidential candidate for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, told Hoy newspaper that he favors it. "I am in agreement because it is convenient to bring morality to the campaign," he said. José Tomás Pérez, secretary general of the PLD, feels that the JCE should clarify the ruling. He also questions whether the JCE can regulate the rates charged by the media.
The ruling establishes that the JCE will supervise all electoral propaganda, to preserve the morality, good customs, public peace and honor of persons, as well as the environment, so that neither the environment nor private property be damaged. It also prohibits the mutilation of public propaganda, placement of propaganda on trees, historic monuments, schools, churches, public sports facilities, historic or cultural centers, hospitals, public buildings, cemeteries, traffic lights, sign posts on highways, streets, or in places where it could distract drivers and infringe on their safety. It also states that political propaganda can only be placed on private property with the authorization of the owners
The ruling bans the use of phrases that are contrary to decency, decorum and dignity of politicians and political parties. The advertisements must indicate who is the advertiser.
The ruling also establishes that the media cannot charge more for political advertising than it does for commercial advertising.
Furthermore, it establishes that printing material suppliers and printers cannot deny their services to any political party that can pay the usual prices.
The ruling establishes that the JCE or municipal electoral juntas can remove any propaganda that violates the electoral propaganda ruling.
Penalties are stated in Electoral Law 275-97.
The electoral campaign is officially opened 90 days prior to the 16 May election date.

Earthquake in Taiwan could affect Presidential visit
President Fernández's scheduled visit to Taipei, Taiwan could be affected by the earthquake that shook that city. The death toll is at 500 persons, with an estimated 4,000 persons injured.
President Fernández is scheduled to arrive on 25 September (27 September in Taipei), as part of a 12-day tour that will also take him to visit several cities in the United States. In preparation for the President's visit, 10 Dominican journalists landed in Taiwan. They arrived just three hours after the earthquake. President Fernández is scheduled to sign education, environment and health agreements with the Taiwan government. He is also scheduled to visit high tech industrial facilities.

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