Latin America & Caribbean

Rising price concerns as Dominicans vote for president

A supporter of Hipolito Mejia
All support is welcome: Hipolito Mejia is trailing in the opinion polls

Two veteran politicians are contesting a poll in the Dominican Republic after a presidential campaign dominated by concerns over rising food and fuel costs.

Opinion polls puts the candidate of the governing party, Danilo Medina, just ahead of the challenger, Hipolito Mejia.

Crime and drug-related violence are also major issues in the campaign.

Six-and-a-half million voters are registered to cast ballots.

More than 300,000 of them live abroad, many of them in New York, where supporters have organised parades in support of their candidates.

Analysts say the vote is so close that it may be decided by the ballots cast by Dominicans in the United States.

A run-off will be held next month if no candidate manages to get at least 50% of the poll.

Candidate Danilo Medina and his wife Candy Montilla
The opposition has accused Danilo Medina of spending too much

It's the economy

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.

His Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) has appointed a 60-year-old economist, Danilo Medina, to run in election.

He is promising to boost economic growth in the Caribbean country.

His opponent is also an old rival and an experienced politician.

Seventy-one-year-old Hipolito Mejia was the country's president from 2000 to 2004.

Mr Mejia, who's campaigned with the slogan "Llego Papa" (Here's Daddy), has vowed to fight corruption and create jobs.

But his term in office was marked by a serious financial crisis.

Relations with neighbouring Haiti - with whom the Dominican Republic shares the island or Hispaniola - are also high on the agenda, especially for its economc implications.

Many Dominicans blame poor Haitian immigrants for taking their jobs and getting involved in crime, which has doubled in the last decade.

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