The electoral observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the Dominican Republic called citizens on Tuesday to participate “massively” in the presidential and legislative elections next Sunday, despite being held in the midst of a pandemic.
In a press appearance at the headquarters of the Central Electoral Board (JCE), Francisco Guerrero, secretary for the strengthening of democracy at the OAS, said he expected Dominicans to go to the polls with the same enthusiasm as always.
“Let’s hope that the people participate as they always have. The Dominican people have always been characterized by a great enthusiasm of the Dominican people in democratic processes. Let’s hope that the people participate actively,” said Guerrero.
The Dominican Republic has 32,569 infections and 747 deaths from COVID-19, after 752 new cases and 14 deaths were reported yesterday, according to data offered this Tuesday by the Ministry of Health.
Guerrero, who is responsible for the OAS mission on the ground, also stressed that he hopes that health protocols will be followed and “above all,” that the political forces participating in the elections “will be up to the task.”
“It is evident that the acceptance of the results is a crucial element in democratic processes,” said Guerrero, so the mission will meet with the candidates to find out their opinions on the process.
It is also important that the electoral authorities “can carry out their work without pressure,” he added.
The OAS mission is headed by former Chilean President Eduardo Frei, who from his country will follow up on the process virtually due to the current pandemic, Guerrero explained.
Nearly 8 million Dominicans will choose the president’s successor, Danilo Medina, in the first elections held in Latin America since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a factor that has affected the electoral process in all its facets.
The main candidates for the Presidency are Luis Abinader, from the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), who is leading the polls; the former Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo, from the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD); and the three times president of the country Leonel Fernández, of the People’s Force.
The elections, which were initially scheduled for May 17, were postponed due to the coronavirus and if a second round is necessary it will be held on July 26.
On March 15, in the municipal elections, which were held four days before the declaration of the state of emergency, which expires today, the PRM and its allies received 42.99% of the votes, compared to 40.99% of the PLD and its allies , according to the JCE data.