Congratulations to the Dominican People for decisively exercising their democratic rights. I am lead to believe that there was a certain amount of 'external' pressure on the JCE last night to make the appropriate announcements with regard to the indicated results of the voting. If so then I am sure that we all ( Dominicans and extranaheros alike ) are very grateful. We were surprised ( but not that much ) by how much waffle came out of the live coverage, and how little information. But the result is clear, and the incumbent has acknowledged same, to the relief of us all, no doubt.

With an eye to the future I would like to make a few observations, and a suggestion, to which the reactions of the good people (especially Dominican voters and potential voters ) at DR 1 would be much appreciated.

It is a commonly held myth that politicians 'do' stuff, especially amongst politiicians. The reality is that they are relatively helpless to influence the major socio-economic factors of any nation. Basically the money is controlled by the wealthy, probably better said, the super-wealthy. That group of a few hundreds of people worldwide, who actually make and break 'markets'. The most powerful economic nations on this planet are at the whim of these people, much more so the lesser states. The mighty dollar rules.....until it doesn't, the yen is in the ascendency....until it isn't. Oil goes up....and then it goes down. We all pay a bit for each fluctuation, and the cash registers of the stinkingly affluent happily go 'KERCHING ! ' again.

It may seem a bit ironic but in the last few days Hipolito actually managed to utter some crumbs of truth amidst all of the other standard political fare. That is that his administration was subject to 'forces beyond his control'. How true that is.

On the other hand I am convinced that precessor/succesor, Leonel, is a highly astute aware individual who understands such things all too well.

What then can a newly elected leader, assuming a genuine interest in the welfare of his nation, hope to do ?

The answer is actually embarrassingly simple. Instead of trying to 'create' stuff, like an improvement in the standard of living, health care, education, infrastructure etc etc etc, a good objective for political leadership is to merely strive to create the conditions in which these things can be brought about. It may seem almost to good to be true, but a careful review of history will bear out my theory. 'Good' government mostly stays out of the way, and allows the conditions that sponsor economic growth to take place. The driving 'force' is stability and security for investment. Everything else follows, education, health care, infrastructure, social welfare are all components that are a requisite for a growth economy. One can be sure that a thriving business community will ensure that voice, and action, is given to these matters. The most common error of 'bad' government, as typified by the current outgoing executive administration, is to try to 'do' too much, and the most common result is...exactly what we have seen here for the last four years. Of course, there is much intense detail involved in these issues, but I am trying to deal with the macro-generalities only.

Hence the suggestion. President-elect Leonel Fernandez has clearly shown that he is a world-class leader, as the development of this country during his previous tenure clearly attests. He has also shown that his style is to allow and stimulate the above mentioned favourable conditions for investment ( both foreign, but equally important, domestic ) and an expanding and broad-based market economy. The problem is that, as often happens, he was not allowed ( for reasons that I am sure we all aware of ) to sustain his efforts.

This time please, providing he doesn't start to show any adverse tendencies in the train of current crowd, let him carry on and keep things running for another term beyond this one. The mess that the DR finds itself now will not be reversed overnight, in fact it will probably take at least two years to reverse the current drift into financial pariah-hood. So patience and forebearance is called for. This country had for several years the highest growth rate in the 'Americas', and, all of the factors taken into account, has the potential to return to this happy state of affairs. But stability is the key.

I would like to propose that Leonel's advisors start thinking about the 2008 elections now, and start planting the seeds of that campaign right from the beginning of success of this one. So here is a proposed campaign motto :

Leonel - Ocho en Ocho !

I.E. Let's give the guy another term in 2008. Hipolito opened the door for re-election of an encumbent, and I understand that there will, undoubtedly, be intense debate of this issue in the houses of legislation over the next few months/years. But essentially it follows that most democratic nations permit a second, or even third, term in office for the executive leader, and why not here, providing that the democratic process allows the people to exercise their perfect right to kick a non-performer of their wishes out on his *ss !

And here is another important distinction, it would appear that a rather straightforward discriminator between 'good' leaders and 'bad', is the simple ethos that appears to govern their own self-appraisal. Who is 'serving' who ? It would appear that many forget in the aftermath of an election victory that just because they are the 'Boss', they are still in the position they hold for the sole purpose of carrying out the wishes of the electorate that placed them there in the first place. Not, as some ( mentioning no names ) seem to think , the other way round.

Any thoughts ?

C.B.