Dominican Republic's women rise to the occasion
Friday 17 May 1996
"I wanted to make sure I got my vote in. The country needs a change," she said after standing outside the San Cristobal music school - ballot station 107A - for six hours.
A new voting system aimed at eliminating the traditional fraud, with women given three hours to vote in the morning and men in the afternoon, appeared to work smoothly.
Ballot box officials spoke of a female turnout of at least 80 per cent, with hundreds of women, many cradling babies, queuing at most stations before the crack of dawn.
Many men began showing up during the morning, saying they simply wanted to admire the line-up of local women.
With longtime president Joaquin Balaguer barred from running for another consecutive term, the question was whether Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, of the social-democratic Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), could win the 50 per cent needed to avoid a two-man run-off on 30 June.
If he falls short, horse-trading by the shrewd 89-year-old Mr Balaguer could tip the balance in favour of Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) in the run-off.
PRD voters were adamant yesterday that Mr Balaguer, in power most of the past three decades at the head of the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC), was in fact supporting Mr Fernandez rather than his party's own candidate, Jacinto Peynado, because the latter was a distant third in opinion polls.
With the PRSC's votes added to those of the PLD, Mr Fernandez, a 42-year- old lawyer, could defeat Mr Pena Gomez in a run-off.
"Fernandez sold his soul to the devil, Joaqin Balaguer," shouted a Pena Gomez supporter outside a polling station in the town of Bani.
"That's false. You have no proof," replied Felipe Sanchez, wearing the purple badge of a PLD polling observer.
Results are expected today. The last presidential election was in 1994 when Mr Balaguer beat 59-year-old Mr Pena Gomez by only 30,000 votes. The latter, who is vice-president of Socialist International, claimed massive fraud, saying up to 200,000 of his supporters had been prevented from voting in the election.
Foreign observers and the American administration supported the allegations and Mr Balaguer was forced to agree to a shortened, two-year term as president and not to run for office again.
sportLiverpool 5 Norwich City 1: Uruguayan striker has now scored 11 league goals against the club
arts + entsOlivier-nominated actor and singer is set to star in Lloyd Webber's musical about the Profumo affair
filmWith more than 70 per cent of early films lost, archivists are scouring the world to preserve the precious examples that remain
sportThe coach of Chalfont St Peter's under-10s football team was relieved of his duties after he sent an email to parents that said: 'I am only interested in winning'
techA piece of new hi-tech kit aims to get us scribbling again
indybestMake getting out of the wrong side of bed on cold winter mornings a thing of the past with our selection of night-time covers
life + styleClarissa Baldwin is the brains behind the slogan 'A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas'
North Korea: Kim Jong Un 'sacks powerful uncle and has his aides executed'
What made Charles Saatchi grab my throat, by Nigella Lawson - as she accuses him of threatening to 'destroy' her with drug claims
Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
Lee Rigby murder trial: Police reveal dramatic new images and footage of the moments two suspects are arrested
Food poverty in UK has reached level of 'public health emergency', warn experts
- 1 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 UK chef creates world's most expensive ready meal - a fish pie costing £314
- 4 Food poverty in UK has reached level of 'public health emergency', warn experts
- 5 I’m sure Kate Moss doesn't care about posing for Playboy. But I do
£50000 - £70000 per annum + London: Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA Eng...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: SQL 2008 R2/2012 Deve...
£38000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Creative Audit Se...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, P...