Just at a time when there was an escalation in infections with COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic the government of the neighboring island yesterday allowed tourist operations, and it is proposed to hold, next Sunday, the presidential election that has already been postponed due to the pandemic.
It is also an election in which the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) He attends the elections with a leadership weakened by the inability of the current president, Danilo Medina, to aspire to a third consecutive term and by the departure of the community of former President Leonel Fernández, who, in protest of an alleged fraud in the October primaries In 2019, he defected and joined the Dominican Workers Party, recently renamed the People's Force.
The situation opens the possibility that the PLD is not the ruling party in the Dominican Republic, by This has not happened since Hipólito Mejía, from the extinct Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), left the presidency in 2004 after suffering a defeat, precisely, before Fernández. The candidates with the best chances of winning, in addition to Fernández, are Gonzalo Castillo, from the PDL, and Luis Abinader, from the Modern Revolutionary Party, a community that, from an electoral point of view, supplanted the PRD.
According to José Rivera, professor of International Studies and Global Communication of the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón the political determination of Dominican voters will depend, in part, on the way in which the people perceive the government's reaction to the emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that, until yesterday, had claimed 754 lives, out of a total of 33,387 infected people.
On Monday, the bulletin of the Dominican Ministry of Health reported 443 new cases. That number rose to 754 cases on Tuesday, and an additional 819 infections were reported yesterday. Similar fluctuations have been reported in previous periods. However, a compilation of data from The New York Times puts the Dominican Republic among the jurisdictions with increasing COVID-19 infections. The average of infections in the last seven days, according to the newspaper, is around 662 infections. Two weeks ago, that same indicator was at 471.
Other indicators show the effect of the increase. For example, between June 23 and 30, hospitalizations increased from 2,839 to 3,323 and cases under intensive treatment went from 182 to 200.
“I think the choice will depend on the events of these first months of year, above all, how the Dominican government handled the pandemic, ”said Rivera. Among the most recent decisions of the Dominican government, is the reopening of airports to international flights.
Traditionally, the PLD, according to Rivera, highlights in the electoral process the economic improvement that has been experienced during the reign of this community while the opposition emphasizes that this boom does not reach the average Dominican and remains among the wealthy.
The hope of the politicians is that, even with the pandemic, people go to the voting centers and the electoral results are clear and without Controversies such as those that occurred in February, during the municipal elections, when some electoral machines did not work properly and the voting was postponed until March.
“There are many people who do not go to vote for fear of the coronavirus. Prevention measures will be taken, but there are always people who do not respect. If there is an infected person, even if they have a mask, it can be a focus of infection. For this reason, measures must be taken, "said Esteban Reyes, candidate for one of the seven positions as overseas deputy who provide parliamentary representation to citizens living outside the Dominican Republic.
" We are calling to people and we believe that there are not many who are not going to vote, except those who cannot leave due to any health condition, "said Adelys Olivares, current overseas deputy who is seeking reelection. “There are going to be elections in the pandemic, but for sure.”
Two weeks ago, the president of the Central Electoral Board, Julio César Castaños Guzmán, issued an order demanding the use of masks, the constant washing of hands and measuring temperature for officials in the electoral process as measures to prevent contagion.
If none of the presidential candidates manages to obtain more than 50% of the votes, a second vote will be held on July 26 between the two candidates who get more votes this Sunday. Rivera indicated that this will allow a regrouping of forces that, in theory, would allow any of the main candidates to become president.
In addition to Castillo, Abinader and Fernández, Guillermo Moreno, from the Alianza País, is running for the presidency; Juan Cohen, of the National Citizen Will Party; and Ismael Reyes, from the Institutional Democratic Party.