Although the Dominican Republic has three major parties and more than ten minor parties, two men, Joaquín Balaguer Ricardo and Juan Bosch Gavino, dominated its political system for decades, but starting in 1996 a new cadre of politicians emerged.
Joaquín Balaguer, a former president under Trujillo, was elected to the presidency six times, most recently in 1994. He founded the Social Christian Reform Party (Partido Reformista Social Christiano—PRSC) while living in exile in New York in 1963. The party, which Balaguer still led in the mid-1990s, is tied to the Christian Democratic political movement, and relies principally on peasant and middle-class support. Currently, it holds 2 of 30 Senate seats and 17 of 149 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
Juan Bosch, who held the presidency for seven months in 1963 before the Dominican crisis, remained a major voice in Dominican politics into the 1990s. Bosch founded the Dominican Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Dominicano—PRD) in 1939. After withdrawing from the PRD, Bosch created his own party, the Dominican Liberation Party (Partido de la Liberación Dominicana—PLD) in 1973. In the second round of voting in the 1996 presidential elections, the PLD's Leonel Fernandez was elected president with just over 51% of the vote.
The PRD continues on without Bosch, and with far more success than Bosch was ever able to achieve. The PRD won the presidential elections of 1978 and 1982, although it was unable to achieve a majority in either house of Congress in 1982. Headed by Jose Francisco Peña Gomez, the PRD has an association with the Socialist International, and a "Eurosocialist" ideological thrust of moderate economic and social change. The party draws support from landless peasants and urban workers. Peña Gomez received 23% of the vote in 1990 and 48.75% in 1996. The PRD won 83 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 24 Senate seats. Peña Gómez's unexpected death in 1998 forced the PRD to find a new presidential candidate. Hipólito Mejía emerged as the PRD leader and easily won the 2000 presidential election. The PRD went on to win the 2002 parliamentary elections with 41.9% of the vote. The PRD currently has 29 out of the 32 seats in the Senate and also commands a majority control in the Chamber of Deputies with 73 out of the 150 seats.
The Independent Revolutionary Party (PRI) was the vehicle for Jacobo Majluta Azar, who served as president briefly in 1982. A former PRD member, Majluta received only 7% of the vote in 1990. The party, now led by Arturo Martinez, holds no seats in the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate.