“The Future of the PLD ”, an article by Dr. Leonel Fernández

December 21, 2015

Few people within the ranks of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) were harboring great expectations with respect to the Gladys Gutiérrez Electoral Congress, held on December 13.

The agreement made by the Political Committee, with the aim of amending the constitution to permit presidential reelection, had resolved that all senators and deputies would be renominated for their offices; that mayors would only need a showing in the polls of a difference of at
least 10 percentage points over their internal rivals; and that Council members would be the only ones to remain subject to the decisions of the voters.

This Congress was focused on primary elections, where except perhaps for the candidacies for the mayorships of Santiago and Santo Domingo Norte, not much was actually in dispute.

It’s thus surprising that in elections of this nature, when the original worry was that they might turn out rather
insipid and lackluster due to low participation, would in fact end, contrary to the tradition of organization and discipline in the party founded by Professor Juan Bosch, in acts of disorder and violence.

The response from the leadership of the PLD, represented by the president Danilo Medina, secretary general Reinaldo Pared Pérez, and the writer of this article, in his capacity as President of the organization, was not long in coming.

It proceeded to
empower the National Electoral Commission to carry out a rigorous and exhaustive investigation within a fixed time limited, at the end of which period all who participated in the aforementioned disturbances, with regard for neither origin nor hierarchy, are to be summarily and dishonorably expelled.

But beyond the sanctions to be imposed, what perturbs both members and supporters of the PLD and public opinion in general is how and why occurrences of this nature can happen
in a public institution that for more than 40 years has been distinguished precisely by its order and discipline.

Weaknesses of the process
In accordance with the testimony and allegations of various actors in the process, the PLD’s internal electoral contest suffered several weaknesses.

According to some, the problem was that, in line with the Electoral Bylaws approved by the Political Committee and the Manual
for the Election of Candidates drawn up by the National Electoral Commission, the voting registry on which the internal PLD primaries would be based was to be the same one used in the Norge Botello Eighth Ordinary Congress.

According to the arguments presented, it seems that in some cases this did not occur. It is alleged that in several locations the voting registry had been tampered with. Polling stations were created without the prior authorization of the corresponding
municipal electoral authorities; and, likewise, some stations were eliminated with the aim of regrouping several into one, all of which provoked the mistrust of the participants.

It has been maintained that in the electoral register numerous errors were pointed out regarding the location of the voting centers, which sparked enormous confusion among voters who did not know exactly where they should go to cast their votes.

It has also been held that the
Intermediate Committees were placed in inappropriate electoral constituencies; that a massive displacement of voters occurred; and that the voter registry included people who are not members of the Dominican Liberation Party.

As a consequence of these and the other alleged irregularities to be examined by the National Electoral Commission, a lack of confidence in the electoral process arose amongst several candidates and their supporters, who in turn—rather than appealing
to the corresponding electoral authorities in each constituency to take the appropriate corrective measures—engaged in censurable acts of disorder and violence.

During the affray, there was, in certain places, an overflow of passion that led to verbal insults and, in turn, physical aggression, causing the tragic and shameful events that ended up costing the lives of two people.

But more than a description of whathappened, what is important is to
determine whyit happened, and what the causes were that set off this chain of episodes that sadden and sully the tradition of conduct of members of the Dominican Liberation Party.

Of course, the fundamental challenge for the PLD lies in promoting the quality of its members, after Professor Juan Bosch’s having overseen the transition, during the Sixth Congress, from a cadre party to a party of the masses.

Under the framework of a cadre party,
quality was always maintained in the PLD. The idea, as Professor Bosch always conceived of it, was that quality would produce quantity, to return again to a process of quality-raising among the party’s members.

With the passage of time, quality did in fact engender quantity among the ranks of the Dominican Liberation Party; and it has been precisely that which has made it the most successful political organization in the democratic history of the Dominican
Republic, having secured five consecutive electoral triumphs of above 50 percent.

The Norge Botello Congress
Now, however, an inverse process is happening—that is, turning quantity into quality—so that the party can return to its roots, acting at all times in accordance with its founding principles, with order and discipline, and continuing toward the future on its trajectory of electoral triumphs in support of democracy, prosperity, and the
wellbeing of Dominicans.

This process began to come together in 2013 with the Norge Botello Eighth Ordinary Congress. The idea was that, since the PLD had contributed with its different governments to the modernization and transformation of the Dominican state, it was now appropriate to look inside, in a sort of introspection, and turn the party apparatus into a unified, agile, effective, modern, transparent, and supportive organization.

To achieve
these goals, the purple party of the yellow star proposed the approval, during the plenary session of its congress, of 15 topics deemed fundamental to the future of the organization. These were: the Declaration of Principles and Statutes; Organizational Line; National and International Political Line; Political Development; Party-State-Society Relations; Communications; Electoral Issues; Youth; Women; Legislative Issues; Municipal Issues; Dominicans Abroad; Finance; Conflict Resolution; and
Ethics and Discipline.

To a certain extent the Norge Botello Congress was tarnished by the fact that what seemed to take precedence in the intentions of most participants was the election of the organization’s Central Committee.

To that end, there was an enormous unfurling of propaganda, including billboards, posters, and political ads on radio and TV that at times gave the impression of being in the final stretches of a presidential

But besides that fact, the Norge Botello Congress laid out the master plan for the renewal, transformation, and raising of quality that the Dominican Liberation Party currently needs in order to remain a decisive force on the national political spectrum.

The basic reason that the application of these resolutions has been slow is that immediately upon finalizing them, the internal process to select the presidential candidate and other
congressional and municipal candidates began, and has only just ended with the confirmation of who will appear on the purple ticket in the 2016 general elections.

With all the organization’s internal energy focused on this internal candidate-selection process, there has been a certain delay or falling behind in carrying out the measures adopted in the PLD’s Eighth Ordinary Congress, destined to foster its unity, renewal, and effective

But, we must trust that once the next electoral contest has ended, and the PLD comes out triumphant once again, displaying the latest trophy bestowed upon it by the popular vote, the whole Party will take on the fulfilment of the commitments made during the Norge Botello Congress as its primary task.

In doing so, the party created by Professor Juan Bosch will return to the task of raising quality among its members. It will sit once again
at the peak of the expectations of the Dominican people; and will govern as the organization that has guided our society through the great challenges of the contemporary world.

Hence, in the effective application of the resolutions adopted at the Norte Botello Congress lie both the unity and the future of the Dominican Liberation Party.