Dominican Republic profile
President: Danilo Medina
The candidate of the governing Dominican Liberation Party, Danilo Medina, won the closely-fought presidential contest of May 2012 against former president Hipolito Mejia. The outgoing president, Leonel Fernandez, had served the maximum permitted two consecutive terms and so could not stand again.
Born in 1950, Danilo Medina became a student activist for the social-democratic Dominican Revolutionary Party, and followed its leader, opposition leader Juan Bosch, into the Liberation Party in 1973. The party, initially to the left of the Revolutionary Party, moved steadily to the centre in the 1990s.
Mr Medina was elected to Congress and served as its president in 1994-95, playing a major role in defusing a constitutional crisis and bringing to a close the era of veteran authoritarian president Joaquin Balaguer.
He served as chief of staff to the Liberation Party leader Leonel Fernandez during his presidential terms in the 1990s and again in 2004-06, and stood as Liberation Party candidate in the 2000 presidential election, losing to Hipolito Mejia.
He fell out with President Fernandez in 2006 when the latter beat him in the Liberation Party primaries for the presidential election of 2008. Mr Medina alleged that the president had thrown the resources of the state into the campaign, and played no part in President Fernandez's final administration.
Mr Medina secured Liberation Party nomination for the 2012 election, and his narrow win over Hipolito Mejia of the Dominican Revolutionary Party consolidated Liberation Party rule - the party controls both houses of Congress.
Mr Medina will have to contend with the persistently high unemployment and poverty rates that his predecessor's otherwise successful economic policies have failed to overcome.