Dominicans - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Dominican society is organized strongly on the basis of class and race. Dominicans of the more powerful classes, who control the economic and political processes of the country, have historically been of European ancestry. The poorest of Dominicans are most often Black, descendants of the original African slave population or migrant workers from Haiti. Mulattoes make up the majority of the Dominican population and have created a burgeoning middle class. In the twentieth century the military and lower levels of government have provided avenues of advancement for darker-skinned men, and some have reached the level of general, and even president (i.e., Trujillo).

Political Organization. The Dominican Republic consists of twenty-six provinces, each run by an appointed governor, and the Distrito Nacional (DN), where the capital is located. The 1966 constitution established a bicameral National Congress (Congreso Nacional), which is split into the 30-member Senate (Senado) and the 120-member Chamber of Deputies (Camara de Diputados). Members of Congress are elected for four-year terms. There is an executive branch with a president who is elected by popular vote every four years, a vice president, and a cabinet. There is also a Supreme Court (Corte Suprema).

Although the Dominican political system has long been modeled after that of the United States, with a constitution and tripartite separation of power, the political reality is different. Dominican politics has been based on a system of presidential control since colonial times. Developed to its extreme under the totalitarian dictatorship of Trujillo, this system, even in its most liberal periods, has not strayed very far from its historical model.

In the 1990s the major political parties in the Dominican Republic were the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC), led by Joaquín Balaguer; the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), led by Juan Bosch; the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), led by José Francisco Peña Gómez; and the Independent Revolutionary Party (PRI), led by Jacobo Majluta.

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