News Americas, New York, NY, Mon. May 19, 2024: Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader has secured a second term in office, winning decisively in the first round of elections, according to preliminary results. The president’s victory reflects strong public approval of his economic management and stringent policies on migration from neighboring Haiti.

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Dominican Republic’s President and presidential candidate for the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), Luis Abinader, gestures during a message to supporters after the first results of the general elections in Santo Domingo on May 19, 2024. Luis Abinader declared his re-election for a second four-year term, shortly after receiving the concession from his two main rivals with just over 20% of the votes counted. (Photo by FEDERICO PARRA/AFP via Getty Images)

With just over half of the votes counted, Abinader held a commanding lead with 58.85 percent of the vote. His closest competitor, former three-time President Leonel Fernandez, garnered 27.29 percent, as reported by electoral authorities. The substantial margin prompted Fernandez and another contender, Abel Martinez, to concede on Sunday night.

“Today our country shines with its own light,” Abinader declared to his supporters at the headquarters of his Modern Revolutionary Party. He pledged to lead with unity and impartiality, calling for a nation “without distinction, without sectarianism, and without party colors.”

A member of the Military Electoral Police frisks a man before he entered a polling station to vote during the general elections in Santo Domingo on May 19, 2024. (Photo by FEDERICO PARRA/AFP via Getty Images)

Abinader also committed to constitutional reforms to ensure the continuity of power would not be subject to the “personal whim” of the sitting president, reaffirming that he would not seek a third term.

Despite reports of minor irregularities from opposition parties, the election process was largely smooth. The 2024 elections saw high voter turnout, likely influenced by lingering dissatisfaction from the 2020 municipal elections, which were suspended due to a technical glitch.

Luis Fortuno, an international observer and former governor of Puerto Rico, remarked, “In general, the electoral process was carried out correctly, openly, and democratically.”

Abinader’s victory signals strong support for his administration’s policies, particularly his tough stance on migration from Haiti. During his first term, Abinader initiated the construction of a 164km (102-mile) concrete wall along the Haitian border and deported over 250,000 undocumented migrants in 2023. These actions, while criticized internationally, have been popular domestically.

Voter Willy Soto, 21, expressed approval for Abinader’s migration policies, stating, “The policies he’s implemented, how he’s cracked down, closed the border and built a wall, I feel like it’s a good initiative to control the problem of Haitian migration.”

Javier Taveras, 38, shared a nuanced view, supporting the preservation of national sovereignty while opposing abuse against Haitians. He voiced uncertainty about the wall’s effectiveness but affirmed his support for maintaining stringent border controls.

Human rights groups have criticized Abinader’s migration policies as racist and in violation of international law. However, the president’s focus on national security and anti-corruption measures has resonated with many voters.

Abinader, a U.S.-trained economist of Lebanese descent, was first elected in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. His administration has worked to restore public trust following several corruption scandals involving high-profile officials.

As he prepares for his second term, Abinader faces the challenge of balancing national security concerns with international human rights standards, while continuing to address the economic and social issues facing the Dominican Republic.

The United States congratulated Abinader on his electoral victory, noting: “We commend the Dominican people for their active participation in the democratic process and the diligent work of electoral observers in supporting a fair and transparent election. We look forward to working closely with President Abinader‘s new administration to further strengthen ties between our nations and our peoples, address shared challenges including climate change and security, and promote economic growth.”

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