Fernandez seeks reelection

Close aides of President Leonel Fernandez and members of the ruling PLD party began openly on Wednesday, 29 December an effort to secure signatures to push ahead a referendum to enable President Leonel Fernandez to run again for President in 2012. The 2010 Constitution bans consecutive re-election.

The Constitution does create the legal figure of the referendum that Fernandez advisers feel could be used to enable him to be the ruling PLD party candidate in the 2012 presidential election.

As reported in Hoy, party directors of the PLD lead the effort to secure the signatures to push ahead the referendum. Engineer Francisco Gonzalez, a former minister of Public Works and Marino Felix, were named as key promoters of the vouchers among the PLD followers.

Party members attending the meeting received vouchers for shopping at Centro Cuesta Nacional (Jumbo, Nacional, Cuesta, Jugueton) stores worth RD$1,000 each. The bonds expire in December 2011.

To receive the vouchers, the party members were asked to deliver a PLD form with names of supporters of the candidacy of Fernandez for the PLD in the 2012 election. The form lists the names, cedulas, telephone numbers, email, signature and membership or not in the PLD of 12 persons.

Hoy said PLD sectors feel this is an important step towards the organizing of the referendum that would legalize President Fernandez running in 2012 for President.

The referendum is controversial. Political scientist and lawyer Pedro Catrain told 7dias.com.do that the push for the referendum is an attempt against the 2010 Constitution and a stab at the rule of law in the country.

He speculated that if the reelection of President Fernandez occurs using the referendum, the country would have moved on to modern totalitarianism 21st Century-style. He called Fernandez your typical constitutional caudillo, in the style of Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Alberto Fujimori (Peru) and Alvaro Uribe (Colombia).

He commented that Fernandez has weakened Dominican democracy that is now at the mercy of his will. “We have a President without limits nor controls that now seeks to replace the Constitution by public acclaim,” he told 7dias.com.do

Catrain says that Art. 124 of the 2010 Constitution bans consecutive presidential election. He said the figure of the referendum, defined in Art. 210 of the Constitution cites the cases in which it can be used. Presidential re-election is not contemplated in the mention.

“When President Leonel Fernandez promotes his re-election using the figure of the referendum, he is marginating himself from democratic legalities and violating the principles of the supremacy of the Constitution,” he said. He called President Fernandez’s re-election aspirations the greatest danger Dominican democracy faces at this moment.