President Leonel Fernandez declared victory today in the Dominican Republic's election and pledged to continue pushing forward economic projects that have helped pull the island's economy out of crisis.
His main rival, centre-left construction magnate Miguel Vargas, said he accepted the results.
Mr Vargas received 41% of the vote while populist candidate Amable Aristy led a batch of other challengers to hold third place with less than 5%.
Mr Fernandez had 53% of the vote, or 995,000 votes out of the 1.9 million counted as of early today, the Central Electoral Commission said. The commission had not yet declared him the winner, however.
The former New Yorker needs to win at least 50% of votes to avoid a run-off. Mr Fernandez said that he interpreted his apparent victory as a renewal of confidence in the Dominican Liberation Party.
He said he would continue revitalising the economy as he had done throughout his most recent term.
Mr Vargas said in a speech that he "accepts and recognises" the results.
It was not yet clear how many of the country's 5.7 million eligible voters had cast ballots in any of 13,000 operating precincts.
A victory would make Mr Fernandez the first Dominican president to be re-elected since the country's last strongman was ousted 12 years ago - showing many voters have overcome hesitations about long-serving politicians in a country with a painful history of iron-fisted rule.
Mr Fernandez is credited with stabilising the peso, taming 30% inflation and bringing the country back from an economic crisis sparked by a bank collapse in 2003.
Official unemployment is still nearly 16% however and about a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the government.
Opponents played on memories of former President Joaquin Balaguer, who dominated the top office for decades while jailing critics and rigging elections.
In 1994, Congress finally barred sitting presidents from seeking new terms, a restriction that kept Mr Fernandez from running for re-election after his first term, from 1996 to 2000.
Congress lifted the ban in 2002, allowing presidents to run for four more years.