Politics FB

The Weekend Politics Thread Isn’t Doing What You Expected

Monty: Y’all ready for this?

You may be wondering why we’re not doing a 4th of July-related post, and frankly if the US wanted us to do a WPT about the 4th of July, they should have made it election day. Instead we’re going to talk about the Dominican Republic. It was either this or Croatia, but Croatia’s election feels so much like every other European election and I am not in the mood for that.

Anna: My Fourth of July plans are hiding in the basement watching Hamilton with Belle while the house I live in hosts a gathering of 25 people, a WHOLE YIKES, so, agreed, screw July 4th. All I know about the Dominican Republic is baseball-related, so I look forward to your wonderful explanation on the situation. I know in our pre-writing prep you mentioned something about them not really having a right wing and right now that sounds heavenly..

Monty: Well, don’t speak up so fast, because while the Dominican Republic does not have a powerful conservative faction, it does have a long and storied history of brutal dictatorship that has informed its constitution in a serious way. Until this decade, no president could serve multiple consecutive terms. The limit has since been extended to two consecutive terms, but the point remains that nobody wants the President to stay in power for too long, lest the officeholder get too comfortable.

On that note, incumbent President Danilo Medina is ineligible to run this time, and his left-wing populist Dominican Liberation Party has instead nominated Communications Minister Gonzalo Castillo to succeed him. Castillo is doing poorly. The frontrunner is Luis Abinader of the social-democratic Modern Revolutionary Party, but thanks to the modest popularity of Leonel Fernandez of the progressive People’s Force, neither candidate is likely to win the outright majority necessary to avoid a runoff.

And while he has no chance, I feel obliged to note that one of the minor candidates is Jewish: Juan Cohen of the National Citizen Will Party.

Anna: I go back and forth on term limits to be quite honest, but I rather like the idea of non-consecutive terms to cut down on power grabs without losing the benefits of experience. Also, in the current political climate, a country trying to avoid dictatorships deserves props. Is the system set up that Castillo can take it because the other two split the votes enough?

Monty: No, I just said there would be a runoff.

Anna: Yes and that confused me but I assume they aren’t first past the post 

Monty: Oh, they are. They just have a runoff if nobody wins a majority of the vote.

Anna: Listen, I’m American, having three viable options confuses and frightens me, apparently. 

Monty: Well, there aren’t really three viable options. Fernandez is a fairly distant third, polling around 20%.

But this isn’t just the Presidency, and that’s important to remember. The DR is also holding elections for the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Having all of these elections at once is super-rare in the DR’s political system, and it’s being monitored by the OAS. Maybe the US could use OAS observers.

Anna: yes please.

Monty: The Senate is simple: its 32 members are elected from the 31 provinces and the national district with FPTP. The Chamber of Deputies meanwhile elects 178 of its members by regional proportional representation, 7 by the vote of Dominicans living abroad, and 5 as a concession to minor parties that received at least 1% of the national vote but didn’t win any normal seats.

As with the presidency, the Modern Revolutionary Party is narrowly ahead of the Dominican Liberation Party, but neither is close to a majority.

Anna: I received a text with an apology for whatever you’re about to do so I’m waiting with baited breath.

Author’s note: oh thank God it was just an Always Sunny clip.

Monty: You said you weren’t feeling well, so I sent you a doctor.



Anyway, that’s it. Have at it, folks.