May 15 will be the first time since 1994 that all electoral posts are up for grabs in the Dominican Republic. The general election means Dominicans will have to elect some 4,106 officials—the most ever—representing 26 parties, from president to senators to vice mayors.
On the presidential front, the latest polls give incumbent President Danilo Medina the lead, though they differ on whether or not he can avoid a June 26 runoff. Among seven opposition candidates, economist Luis Abinader of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) is the top challenger though he lags 37 percentage points behind Medina in the most recent Expedition Strategies survey.
According to El Caribe, the relatively new PRM, created in 2014, is a disadvantage against Medina’s established Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), which has controlled the executive branch since 2004. Still, the two frontrunners overlap on some issues. For example, both have taken stances against illegal immigration. Medina’s administration deported more than 14,000 Dominicans born to undocumented Haitian parents, revoking birthright citizenship guaranteed in the Constitution. Abinader, on the other hand, says the government hasn’t done enough to keep undocumented immigrants out, and that under his administration “not a single undocumented immigrant” would remain in the country.
Overall, Dominicans appear satisfied with the current government. According to the Expedition Strategies poll taken between April 30 and May 2, 61 percent of respondents think the country is headed in the right direction and 83 percent believe Medina is doing good work. The Dominican Republic’s economy is the fastest-growing in the Caribbean, with GDP growth hitting 7 percent in 2015. This year, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean projects that the country will see the second-fastest growth rate in Latin America after Panama.