SANTO DOMINGO – President Leonel Fernández declared victory early May 17 in the Dominican Republic’s national election, telling his supporters that the triumph demonstrates the trust that citizens have in his government.
Fernández made his remarks at his campaign headquarters here shortly after his main challenger, Miguel Vargas, acknowledged defeat in last Friday’s balloting. The president said that Dominicans chose to reelect him in order to continue down the “path of stability, growth and progress.”
The president, who first governed the Dominican Republic from 1996 to 2000, will begin his third four-year term as head of state on Aug. 16.
His government is credited with lifting the country out of a devastating recession that followed the collapse of the country’s second largest commercial bank in 2003.
Fernández had 53.43 percent of the vote as of early Saturday, above the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Vargas was second with 40.93 percent while populist candidate Amable Aristy Castro was a distant third with 4.54 percent.
Although Vargas accepted the results, he accused the ruling PLD of abuse of power in the run-up to the balloting.
“I accept and recognize the results of these elections. I accept them even though these results reflect … the most shameless use of state resources to impose re-election,” Vargas said in a speech at his campaign headquarters.
Election day went smoothly despite fears of possible clashes between supporters of Fernández’s PLD party and the PRD party of Vargas; partisan gun battles the previous week had left three dead and four wounded.
More than 5.7 million Dominicans were eligible to vote, including 154,000 expatriates in the United States, Spain, Venezuela and other nations, the election board said.