Dominican Republic votes in postponed elections due to virus

Dominican Republic votes in postponed elections due to virus

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The elections had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic

Voters in the Dominican Republic choose a new president on Sunday in elections postponed from May due to the coronary virus pandemic.

Opinion polls indicate that Louis Abinader of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) is the favorite to win the most votes in the first round.

To win directly, the top candidate must get more than 50% of the vote.

The Dominican Republic will also choose 190 members of the House of Representatives and 32 senators.

Who are the top presidential candidates?

Opinion polls consistently put Luis Abinader ahead of all other candidates.

 Dominican opposition candidate for the modern Revolutionary Party, Louis Abenader

APB

Luis AbenaderSource: BBC Monitoring

Abinader, whose family belongs to Lebanon, is an economist educated in the United States.

He is the CEO of Grupo Abicor, a family-owned company that manages major tourism projects in the Dominican Republic.

He ran for president in 2016 and entered the second round, but lost to outgoing President Danilo Medina, who defeated him by 27 percentage points.

On June 11, Mr. Abinader and his wife announced that they had confirmed that they had coronavirus and had to temporarily stop the campaign while recovering.

The Dominican Republic is one of the hardest hit countries in the Caribbean, with over 35,000 confirmed cases and more than 775 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Abinader has moved forward in opinion polls after a split in the ruling Dominican Liberation Party, which has been in power for more than a decade.

Under the Dominican constitution, presidents are limited to two consecutive terms in office. This means that the city president, who has been in power since 2012, is unable to stand.

He gave his support to the former Minister of Public Works, Gonzalo Castillo.

 Gonzalo Castillo speaks during a press conference in 2017

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Gonzalo CastilloSource: BBC Monitoring

Mr. Castillo is a wealthy businessman who has studied business in Canada and has founded a number of companies over the years, including Helidosa, the airline and the Aeroambulancia air ambulance service.

But some voters who were previously loyal to the Dominican Liberation Party may change loyalty to former President Lionel Fernandez.

Mr. Fernandez, who was president from 1996 to 2000 and again from 2004 to 2012, decided to run in the People Power Party, which he had been leading since his departure from the Dominican Liberation Party.

Lionel Fernandez speaking at a press conference

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Lionel FernandezSource: BBC Monitoring

He studied law in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, but spent most of his youth in New York.

He worked as a lawyer, university professor and author.

Opinion polls ranked third behind Abenader and Castillo.

But opinion polls recognized that with the election taking place in unprecedented conditions amid the continuing epidemic, it was difficult to predict the response of voters that day.

All candidates had to severely limit their campaign due to the virus, but the head of the Central Electoral Council assured voters that polling stations had received hygiene kits and that the nation was “ready” for the elections.

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