SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Incomplete returns produced a classical cliff-hanger Saturday in the Dominican presidential election, giving almost-equal tallies to former presidents Joaquin Balaguer and Jacobo Majluta.
Late Saturday night, with votes tabulated from 63% of the polling places in Friday's elections, Balaguer had 40% and Majluta had 39.4%.
Former President Juan Bosch, a 76-year-old Marxist, lagged with 19.7% of the votes. Three other candidates had fractions of 1%.
Spokesmen for Balaguer, 78, and Majluta, 51, said the candidates would probably refrain from claiming victory until an official winner is declared. But the spokesmen both told reporters that their candidates had won.
Majluta himself told reporters Saturday night, "I am convinced . . . the evidence is that we won the election." But he stopped short of claiming victory.
Balaguer, a conservative who was president from 1966 to 1978, heads the center-right Social Christian Reformist Party. He is blind from glaucoma.
Majluta, who served as president for 43 days after the suicide of his predecessor in 1982, is the Senate president and a member of the governing Dominican Revolutionary Party. Although his party belongs to the left-leaning Socialist International, Majluta is regarded as a centrist.
Both Majluta and Balaguer are on record in favor of fostering private enterprise, encouraging foreign investment and maintaining good relations with the United States.
Spokesmen for both front-runners said their confidence in victory was based on computerized tallies of vote counts sent by their poll-watchers around the country.
Counting was delayed for thousands of votes that were specially witnessed and sealed by poll workers. The sealed ballots were cast by electors whose voting credentials were questioned by poll workers or party representatives.
Most of the questioned credentials belonged to voters added to electoral rolls after a registration deadline extension requested by Majluta's party. Those votes could be decisive in the final outcome.