Well the elections are over and it looks like we will have a new President in August. Same party, different name. This one is Danilo Medina. This election was very similar to the others, whether at local level or national. It went like this.
1. Launch your campaign to be President. Start having convoys all around the country, and think of a catchy phrase such as "LLego Papa" which means "Daddy is coming".
2. Have a team producing all sorts of fake things. Fake photographs, fake web pages, fake documents, fake recordings. Give them to the press who then publish them, hence smearing the reputation of the candidates or the party. I do not understand why the press print these stories, nor whether they are paid to print them. They are often found to be fake and rarely the perpetrator seems to pay the price.Also it is impossible to know whether the information is true or false. Each election the subject of the smears changes and this year the theme was mostly corruption.
3. The week before the election, the party who thinks they might lose lays the groundwork for the potential shouts of "They were cheating". This time around it was said that the military were threatening those who wanted to vote for the PRD, and earlier that there were problems in the computer centre where the numbers of votes would be entered.
4. On election day they say that both sides were buying cedulas which are the national identity cards needed to vote. Before the elections there were around 400,000 people getting replacement cedulas saying that they had lost theirs. You can sell your cedula on election day for anything between 200 and 1000 RD$. I find it interesting that everyone blames the parties for buying cedulas, but never the people themselves for selling them. It is the parties fault they say, it is fraud they say, but if the Dominicans didn't sell their cedulas and exercised their right to vote then there would not be a problem.
5. The results come out and the winning party celebrates and the losing party screams fraud. Over the next couple of days the losers come up with all sorts of reasons why they should have won, and that the other side cheated. The outcome never changes.
In some ways the Dominican Republic is so advanced. The website for the Central Electoral Court, the Junta Electoral, is very professional. The system for sending the results from each voting office is good and fast. But last night the Junta website was down and still is this morning. A television station was broadcasting the results and was closed down by the Junta. There are all sorts of claims of fraud, cedula buying, mistakes on the electoral roll, threats and the rest. A few people were even shot.
And now as I wait for the official proclamation of the new Dominican Republic President, Danilo Medina. I hope and pray he does what he says he would do. Improve education, lift thousands out of poverty, stop corruption, provide more employment opportunities. The Dominican people really really deserve that. I just wish I could feel a bit more optimistic that it would happen.