Dominican Republic 2010 legislative elections: six-year terms

A knowledgeable correspond tells me:

The [President Leonel] Fernandez administration [in the Dominican Republic] views the midterm elections as particularly crucial given that legislators elected next year will hold a six year term in order to allow for concurrent legislative and presidential elections starting in 2016.

This change will deprive us of an interesting case: since 1996 the DR has been the only country (ever, that I know of) to have exclusively midterm elections: every president has faced an election for the entire (bicameral) legislature at the term’s halfway point (and, of course, vice versa).*

The change will also mean an unusually long term of office. There are few cases of a first or sole chamber being elected for more than five-year terms. In fact, the only other one I can think of is Nicaragua under the constitution enacted during the Sandinista era (and later amended for shorter terms).

When the current electoral cycle was first put in place, the interim arrangement was for a two-year presidential term. The move was in response to the disputed election of 1994, in which the parties agreed to truncate the “reelected” president’s term, while letting the just-elected congress serve its full term.

Now, the Dominican Republic will return to concurrent four-year terms–but not till 2016.

* Others have had exclusively (or usually) non-concurrent elections, as a result of different presidential and legislative term lengths (e.g. El Salvador). But I know of no other case of elections for each branch at the midpoint between elections for the other.

5 thoughts on “Dominican Republic 2010 legislative elections: six-year terms

  1. South Korea used to have 6-year legislative terms, I believe, but now it’s reduced to 4.

    Sri Lanka is still 6 years if Wikipedia is to be believed.

    Both are unicameral.

  2. Sri Lanka has elections much more frequently. The presidential term is six years, but legislative elections occur much more often. Maybe there is a maximum term of 6 years but in practice early dissolutions–an option not available in (pure) presidential systems.

    Did Korea ever have 6-year legislative terms during a democratic period?

  3. The PLD won big (defying for the second time in a row the usual midterm-loss phenomenon).

    But what a difference the electoral system makes. It won 31 of 32 Senate seats but will have 54-57% of seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The difference is the use of FPTP for the (heavily malapportioned) Senate, but PR for the Chamber.

  4. Wouldn’t it have been less disruptive to have 4 years, 3 years, 3 years, 4 years than 4 years, 6 years, 4 years? Or they were in a big hurry to synchronise (and didn’t want separate stand-alone elections)?

  5. Clearly they wanted to get rid of the all-midterm cycle, which was a good idea. But now they have set themselves up for a very high probability of four years of divided government. The PLD has a two-house majority (and the opposition has only one senator) until 2016. Yet the incumbent president can’t run again in 2012, opening up a good chance of partisan alternation in the executive.

    It seems the easiest would have been to elect this congress for just two years, then renew it for four years concurrent with the president.

    I do not know what the political calculations behind this “reform” were.

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