The partial results give victory to Luis Abinader, showing approval for his tough policies regarding migration from neighboring Haiti.

Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader won a second term in the elections, claiming victory in the first round, according to preliminary results.

The hugely popular president promised unity and impartial leadership as he declared victory after his rivals conceded on Sunday night, securing a margin wide enough to win without the need for a showdown in the second round.

Abinader’s victory appears to be an endorsement of its management of the economy and tough policies regarding migration from neighboring Haiti.

With just over half of voting centers reporting on Sunday night, Abinader held 58.85% of the votes. His closest rival, three-time former president Leonel Fernández, got 27.29 percent, preliminary data from electoral authorities showed.

Although final results were pending, Abinader, 56, had clearly won more than the 50 percent needed to rule out a second round of elections. This led to Fernandez and another rival, Abel Martinez, conceding goals.

“Today our country shines with its own light,” Abinader told supporters at the headquarters of his Modern Revolutionary Party, pledging to serve as president for all citizens.

He called for a country “without distinction, without sectarianism and without party colors”.

The re-elected head of state also promised to promote a constitutional reform on the continuity of power that did not depend on the “personal whim” of the incumbent president. He promised he would not run again after completing his second term.

Presidents of the Dominican Republic are restricted to two four-year terms. However, previous reforms extended presidential terms.

Although opposition parties reported a number of minor irregularities, voting in the elections went largely smoothly.

Many of the eight million eligible voters are still concerned about the electoral authority’s decision to suspend the 2020 municipal elections due to a technical failure, triggering what appears to be high voter turnout.

Voters said they were satisfied with the electoral process, according to Luis Fortuno, an international election observer and former governor of Puerto Rico.

“In general, the electoral process was carried out correctly, openly and democratically,” said Fortuno.

Haitian migrants

One of Latin America’s most popular presidents, Abinader had approval ratings of around 70%, a CID-Gallup poll showed in September.

The election result reinforced Abinader’s main policies, which include an anti-corruption agenda and a crackdown along the shared border with Haiti and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing the violence-hit neighbor.

Abinader, a US-educated economist of Lebanese descent, was elected during the COVID pandemic in 2020 with promises to restore trust in the government following several high-profile corruption scandals that implicated public officials in the top tourist destination.

Once in office, he began building a 164 km (102 mi) concrete wall along the border with Haiti to keep out undocumented migrants. More than 250,000 migrants were deported in 2023, despite international pressure for the country to welcome more refugees.

Voter Willy Soto, 21, was among the crowd outside Abinader’s campaign headquarters. He expressed approval of the crackdown on migrants.

Although he says he knows that “policies against [os haitianos] they are very strict,” he told the Associated Press news agency that the measures taken by the president are important to guarantee the safety of Dominicans like him.

“This is not a problem that can be solved overnight,” said Soto. “The policies he implemented, how he cracked down, closed the border and built a wall, I feel is a good initiative to control the Haitian migration problem.”

Another voter, Javier Taveras, 38, told the AFP news agency that he “likes the current position of maintaining sovereignty”, although not “the abuses against our Haitian brothers”. As for the border wall, “I don’t know how effective it is,” he said.

Although the migration policy is popular among Dominicans, it has drawn harsh criticism from human rights groups who consider it racist and a violation of international law.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *