The Dominican Republic is a representative democracy whose national powers are divided among independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The president appoints the cabinet, executes laws passed by the legislative branch, and is commander in chief of the armed forces. The president and vice president run for office on the same ticket and are elected by direct vote for 4-year terms.
Legislative power is exercised by a bicameral congress--the senate (30 members), and the chamber of deputies (120 members). Presidential elections are held in years evenly divisible by four. Congressional and municipal elections are held in even numbered years not divisible by four.
Under the constitutional reforms negotiated after the 1994 elections, the 16-member Supreme Court of Justice is appointed by a National Judicial Council, which is nominated by the three major political parties. The Court has sole jurisdiction over actions against the president, designated members of his cabinet, and members of Congress.
The Supreme Court hears appeals from lower courts and chooses members of lower courts. Each of the 29 provinces is headed by a presidentially appointed governor. Elected mayors and municipal councils administer the National District (Santo Domingo) and the 103 municipal districts.
The Dominican Republic has a multi-party political system with national elections every 4 years. In two rounds of presidential elections in 1996, nearly 80% of eligible Dominican voters went to the polls. The leading parties in 1994 were the PRSC, linked to the International Christian Democratic political movement, whose candidate was President Joaquin Balaguer; the PRD, affiliated with the Socialist International, whose candidate was Jose Francisco Pena Gomez; and the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), whose candidate was former President Juan Bosch.
On election day, international observers noted many irregularities in the voter lists, and the opposition PRD immediately charged the Central Electoral Board and the PRSC with fraud. A Verification Commission appointed by the Central Electoral Board, however, did not accept the PRD's charges. By all estimates, total disenfranchised voters far exceeded the 22,281-vote margin of victory in favor of President Balaguer on August 2, 1994.
Following an intense period of political activity, the competing political parties signed a Pact for Democracy on August 10, reducing President Balaguer's term of office from 4 to 2 years, setting early elections, and reforming the constitution. A new Central Electoral Board was named to work on electoral reform. The main candidates in 1996 were Vice President Jacinto Peynado (PRSC), Jose Francisco Pena Gomez (PRD), and Leonel Fernandez (PLD).
Domestic and international observers saw the 1996 election as transparent and fair. After the first round in which Jacinto Peynado (PRSC) was eliminated, President Balaguer endorsed the PLD candidate. Results in the second round, 45 days later on June 30, were tabulated quickly, and although the victory margin was narrow (1.5%), it was never questioned. The transition from incumbent administration to incoming administration was smooth and ushered in a new, modern era in Dominican political life.
Fernandez' political agenda was one of economic and judicial reform. He helped enhance Dominican participation in hemispheric affairs, such as the Organization of American States and the follow up to the Miami Summit. On May 16, 2000, Hiploito Mejia, the Revolutionary Democratic Party candidate, was elected president in another free and fair election. He defeated Dominican Liberation Party candidate Danilo Medina 49.8% to 24.84%. Former President Balaguer garnered 24.68% of the vote. Mejia entered office on August 16 with four priorities: education reform, economic development, increased agricultural production, and poverty alleviation. Mejia also champions the cause of Central American and Caribbean economic integration and migration, particularly as it relates to Haiti.
The military consists of about 24,000 active duty personnel, commanded by the president. Its principal mission is to defend the nation, but it serves more as an internal security force. The army, twice as large as the other services combined, consists of four infantry brigades and a combat support brigade; the air force operates three flying squadrons; and the navy maintains 30 aging vessels. The Dominican Republic's military is second in size to Cuba's in the Caribbean.
The armed forces participate fully in counter-narcotics efforts. They also are active in efforts to control contraband and illegal immigration from Haiti to the Dominican Republic and from the Dominican Republic to the United States.
conventional long form: Dominican Republic
conventional short form: none
local long form: Republica Dominicana
local short form: none
Data code: DR
Government type: representative democracy
Capital: Santo Domingo
Administrative divisions: 29 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 district* (distrito); Azua, Baoruco, Barahona, Dajabon, Distrito Nacional*, Duarte, Elias Pina, El Seibo, Espaillat, Hato Mayor, Independencia, La Altagracia, La Romana, La Vega, Maria Trinidad Sanchez, Monsenor Nouel, Monte Cristi, Monte Plata, Pedernales, Peravia, Puerto Plata, Salcedo, Samana, Sanchez Ramirez, San Cristobal, San Juan, San Pedro de Macoris, Santiago, Santiago Rodriguez, Valverde
Independence: 27 February 1844 (from Haiti)
National holiday: Independence Day, 27 February (1844)
Constitution: 28 November 1966
Legal system: based on French civil codes
18 years of age, universal and compulsory; married persons regardless of age
note: members of the armed forces and police cannot vote
chief of state: President Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna (since 16 August 1996); Vice President Jaime David FERNANDEZ Mirabal (since 16 August 1996); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna (since 16 August 1996); Vice President Jaime David FERNANDEZ Mirabal (since 16 August 1996); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year term; election last held 16 May 1996, runoff election held 30 June 1996 (next to be held 16 May 2000)
election results: Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna elected president; percent of vote - Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna (PLD) 51.25%, Jose Francisco PENA Gomez (PRD) 48.75%
bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado (30 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (149 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 16 May 1998 (next to be held NA May 2002); Chamber of Deputies - last held 16 May 1998 (next to be held NA May 2002)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 24, PLD 3, PRSC 3; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 83, PLD 49, PRSC 17
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Corte Suprema, judges are elected by a Council made up of legislative and executive members with the president presiding
Political parties and leaders:
Alliance for Democracy Party or APD [Maximilano Rabelais PUIG Miller, Nelsida MARMOLEJOS, Vicente BENGOA]; Anti-Imperialist Patriotic Union or UPA [Ignacio RODRIGUEZ Chiappini]; Democratic Quisqueyan Party or PQD [Elias WESSIN Chavez]; Democratic Union or UD [Fernando ALVAREZ Bogaert]; Dominican Communist Party or PCD [Narciso ISA Conde]; Dominican Liberation Party or PLD [Jose Tomas PEREZ]; Dominican Revolutionary Party or PRD [Hatuey DE CAMPS]; Dominican Worker's Party or PTD [Ivan RODRIGUEZ]; Independent Revolutionary Party or PRI [leader NA]; Liberal Party of the Dominican Republic or PLRD [Andres Van Der HORST]; National Progressive Force or FNP [Pelegrin CASTILLO]; National Veterans and Civilian Party or PNVC [Juan Rene BEAUCHAMPS Javier]; Popular Christian Party or PPC [Rogelio DELGADO Bogaert]; Social Christian Reformist Party or PRSC [Joaquin BALAGUER Ricardo]
note: in 1983 several leftist parties, including the PCD, joined to form the Dominican Leftist Front or FID; however, they still retain individual party structures
Political pressure groups and leaders: Collective of Popular Organizations or COP
International organization participation: ACP, Caricom (observer), ECLAC, FAO, G-11, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (subscriber), ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Roberto Bienvenido SALADIN Selin
chancery: 1715 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:  (202) 332-6280
FAX:  (202) 265-8057
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Mayaguez (Puerto Rico), Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico)
consulate(s): Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville, Mobile, and Ponce (Puerto Rico)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Charles MANATT
embassy: corner of Calle Cesar Nicolas Penson and Calle Leopoldo Navarro, Santo Domingo
mailing address: Unit 5500, APO AA 34041-5500
telephone:  (809) 221-2171
FAX:  (809) 686-7437
Flag description: a centered white cross that extends to the edges divides the flag into four rectangles - the top ones are blue (hoist side) and red, and the bottom ones are red (hoist side) and blue; a small coat of arms is at the center of the cross