Leading, Medina Declares Victory in Dominican Elections

  • Partial results show incumbent set to win in first Round
  • Economy was fastest-growing in the Americas last year

President Danilo Medina used a commanding lead in a partial vote count Monday to declare victory in the Dominican Republic elections, after presiding over the fastest-growing economy in the Americas last year.

Danilo Medina waves to supporters.

Photographer: Erika Santelices/AFP via Getty Images

With 58 percent of votes counted manually, Medina was leading with 62 percent, according to a statement posted on the electoral council’s website. His nearest rival, Luis Abinader had 35.2 percent. A candidate must obtain 50 percent of the vote to avoid a run-off vote in June.

The official result won’t be known until a full manual count has been completed, which may take days.

“We have received the support of the majority,” Medina said in a speech from the Dominican Liberation Party campaign headquarters in Santo Domingo Monday evening. “After today, I will go back to being president.”

The Caribbean country’s economy expanded 7 percent last year, led by strong domestic demand as lower oil prices boosted disposable income and a recovery in the U.S. helped tourism and remittance flows. Medina, 64, has said he wants to use a second term to boost tax collection and cut debt. He has also pledged to overhaul the electricity sector, building two new generation plants and boosting the use of renewable energy sources.

Medina’s party also appeared headed to retaining control of both chambers of congress. The electoral board statement showed his party leading in 27 of the 32 Senate races and in a majority of the 190 races for the House of Deputies.

“Everyone is expecting a new fiscal reform to be introduced, designed to consolidate the gains that have been made during the first administration,” Franco Uccelli, an emerging market analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. , said in a phone interview before the vote. “Everything points to a solid fiscal performance.”

Former vice presidential candidate Abinader has pledged to tackle crime and government corruption.

Luis Abinader speaks at a rally on May 13.

Photographer: Erika Santelices/AFP via Getty Images

The nation’s dollar bonds have returned 29 percent since Medina took office in August 2012, compared to an average of 16 percent for emerging market sovereign bonds.

Medina’s popularity led the ruling Dominican Liberation Party last year to change the constitution to allow the president to run for a second consecutive term with an eight-year overall limit. Previously, presidents could serve only one term, but could run again after waiting four years.

An exporter of bananas, gold and coffee, the country’s main draw is its beaches, which brought in more than 5 million visitors last year. The government has set a goal of bringing in at least 10 million tourists by 2023, almost equivalent to the current population.

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