Record abstention in the 2024 municipal elections in some cities; PRM on the way to absolute control of government?

The president of the Municipal Electoral Board of Santiago, Haime Thomas Frias Carela spoke up concerned about the widespread abstention in the municipal election. He said in Santiago, only 30% of eligible voters voted. He says this is high compared to the 52% that voted in the 2020 municipal elections. In 2020, the country was immersed in the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the Central Electoral Board (JCE), the organizer of the elections, did its part in organizing the elections and motivating people to go to vote.

The results of Santiago went beyond generalized abstention. There were 8,105,151 persons eligible to vote in the 2024 municipal election. Of these 3,775,587 (46.5%) did so. The overall abstention then was 53.5%. Abstention in the past municipal election in 2020 was 52%. Analysts emphasize 2020 was a pandemic year. Nevertheless, 2020 was a year when the Plaza de la Banderas youth movement mobilized hundreds of thousands of new voters.

Santiago is the home base for Abel Martinez, who is running for President on the ticket for the former ruling party, the Dominican Liberation Party.

Niza Campos, political reporter for Diario Libre, and Benjamin Morales, managing editor, said the size of the sweep is a surprise. Campos said the opposition party alliance was expected to have done better. Morales said he was surprised the PLD lost in Santiago. He said there is a clear message that the opposition alliance needs to do better.

Anibal de Castro, executive editor of Diario Libre, said the Santiago loss was very painful for the opposition as the candidate was a well-known deputy, Victor Fadul. He also pointed out the loss in San Cristobal of another well-known PLD candidate, Nelson Guillen.

De Castro highlighted that now all the city governments of Greater Santo Domingo, the largest voter concentration in the country, will be under the ruling party.

Benjamin Morales said that coming May the strategy is difficult for the opposition in the 2024 presidential and congressional elections. He said only if the PRM makes a catastrophic mistake can it lose the elections.

Niza Campos concurred the municipal election is a thermometer for what is coming in May. De Castro said the results diminished the bet of the opposition on a June runoff vote, hoping President Luis Abinader would not receive 50% + 1 of the vote.

The political analysts mentioned that there is an upcoming 23 February 2024 deadline when the political parties need to have deposited their alliances for the congressional and presidential elections to the Central Electoral Board (JCE).

The city governments start on 24 April 2024. The political analysts say the sweep gives the ruling party a strong position into the next presidential and congressional election campaign for the 19 May 2024 election.

Benjamin Morales said it is scary for democracy that the ruling PRM party may likely strengthen its majority in Congress, reaching the two-thirds majority that gives the party authority to change the Constitution and approve bills without having to listen to opposition legislators. At present, the PRM only has simple majority in both houses.

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20 February 2024