A governing party official appeared to have scored a first-round win in the Dominican Republic’s presidential election but supporters of his main opponent complained of vote-buying and other forms of fraud and said they would challenge the results. Danilo Medina of the current president’s Dominican Liberation Party received just over 51 percent of Sunday’s vote with 83 percent of the ballots counted, according to the Caribbean country’s Electoral Commission. His main rival, former President Hipolito Mejia of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, had nearly 47 percent. The winner needed more than 50 percent to avoid a runoff. Medina said he was confident he would win, but that the Electoral Commission would keep scrutinizing ballots through the night. He thanked a crowd of supporters and sent them home. “We will celebrate in a big way tomorrow,” he said.
Mejia did not concede and questioned the results as did others in his party. Luis Abinader, his vice presidential candidate, said the Dominican Revolutionary Party would present a report detailing irregularities on Monday. “We are going to defend democracy,” Abinader said. “We are going to show the country what really has happened today.” Mejia’s representative on the Electoral Commission accused the ruling party of fraud, saying the former president should have received many more votes than the results reflected. “We all know what party the director of the Electoral Commission belongs to,” he said at a news conference.
The balloting appeared orderly in general but there were widespread reports that backers of both parties were offering people payments of about $15 to vote for their candidate or to turn over their voting cards and withhold their vote. Campaign officials denied the allegations.