Voters in the Dominican Republic are going to the ballot today to elect a new government. Opinion polls put incumbent president Leonel Fernandez Reyna in the lead after he led his nation out of a devastating economic crisis.
Under his rule, public spending has grown with much of the capital Santo Domingo transformed into a construction site, even though one quarter of the nation still lives below the poverty line.
At a rally in the capital, he urged a massive crowd of supporters to re-elect him: “To all those who dream of new utopias, those who want a better country – four more years!,” he cried.
His strongest rival among six other candidates is Miguel Vargas Maldonado, a wealthy
construction mogul from the centre-left Dominican Revolutionary Party, who has sought to portray Fernandez as a dictator-in-the-making.
However, surveys predict Fernandez is likely to win more than 50 percent of the vote outright, avoiding a run-off in June. Some critics have voiced concern at the prospect of a ruler staying on for a third term in a country with a painful history of authoritarian rule.