SANTO DOMINGO – Dominicans are heading to the polls Sunday to elect a new president, with veteran politicians Hipolito Mejia, of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, or PRD, and Danilo Medina, of the Dominican Liberation Party, or PLD, the leading candidates in the six-person field.
Polling places opened at 6:00 a.m. and will stay open for 12 hours.
Some 6.5 million people are eligible to cast ballots at the 14,470 polling places, which include 605 precincts in the United States, Spain, Italy, Venezuela, Panama, Switzerland, Canada, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium, the Central Elections Board said.
“Generally speaking, there is active, massive and peaceful participation, like we all expected,” Central Elections Board chairman Roberto Rosario said.
The polls show the presidential election to be a two-man race between Medina, a former presidential chief of staff, and Mejia, who served as the Caribbean nation’s president from 2000 to 2004.
Medina, a 60-year-old economist, chose first lady Margarita Cedeño as his running mate, while the 71-year-old Mejia, an agricultural engineer, selected businessman Luis Abinader as his running mate.
Medina lost to Mejia in the 2000 presidential election.
The other four candidates seeking to succeed President Leonel Fernandez are former Attorney General Guillermo Moreno, of the Alianza Pais, or AP; former presidential candidate Eduardo Estrella, of Dominicans for Change; former Labor and Environment Minister Max Puig, of the Alliance for Democracy, or APD; and attorney Julian Serulle, of the Broad Front.
Dominicans living abroad are also electing seven congressional representatives for the diaspora.