President Hipolito Mejia of the Dominican Republic has admitted defeat in Sunday's presidential election.
Fernandez can point to a record of prosperity
His statement confirmed early results showing that former head of state Leonel Fernandez had won about 51% of the vote.
A decisive factor seems to have been the economic crisis which is afflicting the country.
After a bitter election campaign with allegation of dirty tricks, voting was marred by several violent incidents.
Three people were shot dead outside a polling station in the town of Barahona, about 180km (110 miles) south-west of the capital, Santo Domingo.
In a separate event on the outskirts of the capital, witnesses saw armed men fire in the air in an attempt to raid a voting booth to steal ballot boxes.
Bank scandal in 2003 scared off US investors
Foreign debt has doubled since 2000; inflation reached 43% in 2003
Violence claimed 13 lives during the 2000 election
However, the BBC's Claire Marshall in Santo Domingo says widespread fears of electoral fraud did not prove correct, with only minor irregularities reported.
The country - which shares the same island as Haiti - has been hit by rampant inflation and high unemployment.
Analysts say there is nostalgia for the relative prosperity under Mr Fernandez in the late 1990s, when the country's economy grew more than 7% annually.
President Mejia had blamed a world recession and a bank fraud scandal for the country's economic woes.