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The presidency of Luis Abinader: between challenges and hope

As if it were an unwritten code, traditionally elected presidents enjoy a ‘honeymoon’, which represents the stage known as the ‘100 days of government’. These three months of governance constitute an unspoken truce on the part of the vital forces of the nation, especially two: the political opposition and of course, what Edmund Burke in 1787 called the ‘fourth estate’, the press.

This phenomenon has not always been uniform. Many times the first discussion of the ‘political marriage’ between the government and the opposition arises early and on other occasions the divorce with the press has been pronounced since the electoral campaign (let’s not ask Donald trump about this because it can write volumes). However, this harmonious governance may depend on other important factors. For example, it is not the same to govern with a (legislative) majority than in a minority, as it is not the same to be charismatic and loved than to be unpopular, as well as to be funny or to fall in grace. All these factors mark the relationship that will take place from day one.

Another unpredictable phenomenon, totally alien to the political dialectic of countries, are external factors and their effects on the economy. A president-elect during ‘everyday life’ will have to write a political dialogue / story of ‘love in times of coronavirus‘, with the same skill as the great Gabriel García Márquez and the citizens of that government must be as patient as Gabo’s readers when they devour each verse. The current crisis requires patience, tolerance and a responsible opposition that does not oppose for opposing. But beware,without opposition there is no democracy!

In the midst of the pandemic, the first Latin American president, elected during this crisis, takes office on August 16, 2020: Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona, of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) in the Dominican Republic. 2020 says goodbye by transporting us in a time machine to 2010, in which the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) already calls the “Lost decade”, the Dominican Republic – a middle-income country and one of the fastest growing countries – will also suffer a reduction of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Next, after considering the internal and external factors that will interact in the new administration, I will share my global panorama, highlighting three scenarios that will be presented to Abinader:

What can – and should – be done:

  • A new governance and communication model to promote and practice inclusion, transparency and real closeness with citizens: the administration of his predecessor, Danilo Medina, gave the impression of focus on highlighting how popular the president was compared to his regional counterparts, but in reality Medina spoke to the public and the press with a frequency similar to that of Kim jong un the North Koreans. He governance model 4.0 on Twitter that Abinader shows during the transition It is one that pleases the young boys, which Nayib Bukele successfully develops in The Savior and Trump I already did it in U.S. Governments don’t have to be so formal.
  • Relaunching the economy: deepening the relationship with the productive sectors, developing public-private alliances in a win-win relationship. Foreign policy should help attract foreign investment and the government should closely monitor its fiscal space and promote an optimal business environment, backed by legal certainty, which will make the market attractive to foreigners. weather investment. Maintain existing jobs and generate new ones. Titanic, but possible.
  • Public efficiency: reduce the state apparatus to strengthen efficiency with the elimination / merger of institutions to relocate duplicate functions of inoperative entities and bodies, with a reorganization of the State that redirects public spending to first-order sectors: health. Consider that in 10 years the State ceases to be the main employer, creating an incubator for SMEs. The Dominican Republic would be a Silicon Valley of the Caribbean to diversify dependence on tourism, a sector vulnerable to pandemics.
  • Eliminate the famous “horns”: decrease government advertising, redirecting these funds to priority areas. The media should do its job and the state its. Journalists who as ‘media mercenaries’ create irresponsible public opinion, distort the reality of things and damage democracy, the microphone can also be a deadly weapon. (In the Dominican Republic, journalists hooked on the public payroll are given the illustrious nickname of horns.)
  • Less bottles, more human capital: a more efficient public administration is achieved by placing the most qualified. In the social imaginary, the bottles represent another type of services charged not provided.
  • Relaunch foreign policy: strengthen ties with the United States as the main trading partner, as well as with other strategic partners within the framework of a coherent, proactive, not only reactive policy that anticipates scenarios. A ‘smart foreign policy‘as Abinader himself has called it. Only in the United States of America reside 2.1 million Dominicans. In conjunction with the Ministries of Culture and Tourism, an ambitious plan must be designed to create a cultural bridge between the diaspora and the Homeland. A generation of them does not visit the island, others infrequently, and some barely venture to improvise three words in Spanish: extended Dominican and more remittances. The next chancellor, appointed by Abinader, Mr. Roberto Álvarez Gil, has emphasized protection and rapprochement with Dominicans abroad.

The expected, People first:

  • Audits in all institutions;
  • Combat clientelism, especially in purchases and contracts;
  • That confronts corruption through the appointment of an independent attorney general;
  • That the investigation of the Punta Catalina coal plant and the Odebrecht case be the letter of presentation of the political will of the new government;
  • That nepotism has no place in this administration and that public positions are justified by work;
  • Greater and better investment in health and education;
  • Continuity of social programs, but managed – hopefully – efficiently;
  • Modernization of specialized bodies, especially the National Police (yes, with better salaries)

What you are facing:

  • To rule in the middle of a pandemic, a very long;
  • To meet the expectations of the citizens who voted dragging a bag full of dreams;
  • To an economy battered by the pandemic, with immediate effect on tourism and jobs;
  • To resort to loans to boost the economy and cover the deficit inherited by the previous administration in a context with lower collections, while its finance team will have to adjust its fiscal space without improvisation;
  • To govern with empowered citizens and a civil society vigilant to promises and hungry for justice: zero corruption.

In a previous column, I analyzed the leadership that current conditions require, saying that “today the fact that we have a crisis is universally accepted, because of something that can only be observed through a microscope. Therefore, we need a different leadership, since the current moment does not allow room for improvisation. Remember that great leaders result from great crises, not from moments of stability. Nelson Mandela is not considered a leader simply because he was president. On the contrary, his fight prior to that moment catapulted him. On the other hand, we do not remember Rosa Parks for the conferences she gave around the United States defending civil rights; He stands out because in a moment of crisis he decided to take a step that, although it would put his life in danger, would mark the course of the collective cause. Today we need a different leadership, one with a differentiated – and inclusive – gender perspective. For example, it is not by chance that seven female leaders are teaching in the management of the pandemic. No, it is not by chance! It is reality and logic ”.

The great crises do not appear without bringing partners to the great opportunities. Abinader not only has the opportunity to demonstrate what he is made of, the circumstances also allow him to be the Dominican Franklin Delano Roosevelt (economic recovery, Great Depression) who navigates his country to a safe harbor or the Ronald Reagan who knows how to defend the historical values ​​of his town (influenced the fall of the Berlin Wall). Not every day one has the opportunity to write her name in the olympus of history or in the unenviable club of those who pass without pain or glory.

Political leadership requires leaving the comfort zone to influence and decide on the difficulty. Mandela bequeathed us a great exampleAs I once said: “after years in prison he fought for a cause, he managed to conquer power and he knew how to work on the concerns that inspired his struggles. He did not come to power to improvise; in fact, he retired from power when his people still loved him and moral power accompanied him until the last of his days.

-Geovanny Vicente Romero is a Washington DC-based political analyst, international consultant and professor Political commentator for media such as the BBC. He is the founder of the RD Center for Public Policy, Development and Leadership (CPDL-RD). Follow Geovanny on Twitter @GeovannyVicentr


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