Dominican leader's party poised to win big gains -

Dominican leader's party poised to win big gains

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- The president's party seemed headed toward a much bigger majority in Congress, according to preliminary returns released Monday by the Dominican Republic's electoral board.

With more than half the ballots from Sunday's vote counted, the Dominican Liberation Party of President Leonel Fernandez appeared likely to win all but one of the Senate's 32 seats.

"It's an overwhelming majority that will not be counterbalanced," sociologist Cesar Perez said.

Election officials said results for House seats were not yet known, but leading political analysts said the Liberation Party appeared to dominate returns in nearly all provinces of the Caribbean country.

In the outgoing Congress, the president's party holds 22 of the 32 Senate seats and 96 of the 183 seats in the House. The main opposition Dominican Revolutionary Party has six senators and 60 House seats.

More than 6 million people were registered to vote in Sunday's elections, and officials estimated some 58 percent cast ballots. The electoral board did not say when final results would be available.

Fernandez, who is in Spain attending a meeting of leaders from the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean, said in a statement Monday that the election results are an endorsement of his government's economic policies.

He was re-elected in 2008 largely because of recent growth after a severe economic crisis at the beginning of the decade.

Fernandez is expected to use the majority in both chambers to push his pro-business agenda and amend local laws to coincide with the new constitution that allows presidents to serve an unlimited number of four-year terms.

The charter, forged last year under an agreement between Fernandez and the main opposition party, lifted the lifetime limit on presidential terms but still bars a president from serving more than eight consecutive years. Fernandez, who is in his second consecutive term and third overall, won't be able to seek re-election in 2012 but could run again later.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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