'I voted for continuity. Danilo needs another four years to improve safety and work with the schools,' says a resident of downtown Santo Domingo.

Dominican President and presidential candidate for the Democratic Liberation Party (PLD), Danilo Medina (C), speaks to the press after voting at a polling station in Santo Domingo during general elections on May 15, 2016.
Dominican President and presidential candidate for the Democratic Liberation Party (PLD), Danilo Medina (C), speaks to the press after voting at a polling station in Santo Domingo during general elections on May 15, 2016.

Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina is poised to be re-elected for a second term following Sunday's elections.

As preliminary results poured in, Medina's coalition so far won 61 percent of the vote – a margin that if sustained would be enough to avoid a runoff election in June.

His nearest rival, businessman Luis Abinader received 35 percent of the votes. The remaining six candidates combined had less than 4 percent of votes, including the first two women running for the presidency.

Dominican presidential candidate for the Modern Revolutionary Party, Luis Abinader, prepares to vote during general elections in Santo Domingo on May 15, 2016
Dominican presidential candidate for the Modern Revolutionary Party, Luis Abinader, prepares to vote during general elections in Santo Domingo on May 15, 2016

"I voted for continuity. Danilo needs another four years to improve safety and work with the schools," says Roxana Almonte, a 58-year-old secretary at a school in downtown Santo Domingo.

Some 6.7 million of the Dominican Republic's 10 million residents are eligible to vote, with some 3,000 observers on hand to monitor the process.

Also being elected are 32 senators, 190 lower house deputies and local officials, with candidates from 26 different parties participating.

People paste a poster with electoral information at a polling station during general elections in Santo Domingo on May 15, 2016
People paste a poster with electoral information at a polling station during general elections in Santo Domingo on May 15, 2016

Medina, who is up against a divided opposition, went to the polls with an 89 percent approval rating, according to a survey by Mexican consultancy Mitofsky.

Medina's centrist PLD party has been in power for 12 years in the Spanish-speaking country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with its troubled neighbour, Haiti.

The economy is booming thanks to millions of tourism dollars from foreigners flocking to the country's luxury hotels and beaches. It grew seven percent last year and inflation stood at 2.3 percent.

But 40 percent of the nation's 10 million people are estimated to live in poverty and the unemployment rate is about 14 percent, according to government figures.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies