How Haitians are electing their representatives and how is the government destroying the election process

Editorial Note: These contents are simplified from my paper collections regarding Haitian Democracy. Contents are licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. You may use the following contents freely as long as you attribute my name “ueutyi or Z. Y. Gong” and share the same way. This work is 100% original.

 

Haiti is the unequivocally the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, indeed, the country is so poor that its citizen cannot even afford eating foods and Haitian children need to eat dirts to stay alive. [1] Nevertheless, Haiti is the home to the only successful slave rebellion; Toussaint Louverture, last governor of French Saint-Domingue, was born a slave.
Why are these background informations useful? Because these informations provide us some important basic knowledges of Haiti. As a country mainly composed of ex-slaves, Haiti is mainly composed of people of African origin. However, why is Haiti so poor compared to its other black majority neighbors such as Saint Kitts and Neves and Barbados? Because Haiti did not attain its independence through peaceful means. Haitian revolt against the French, and they indeed won, against Napoleon Bonaparte[2].

 

Let us get back to our course now. Haiti is a democracy, “illiberal democracy” to be precise. After the departure of Duvalier, “Baby Doc” Jean-Claude , Haitian amended their constitution to make the presidential election be held every five years, allowing presidents to serve five-year long non-renewable terms [3]. Presidents are eligible for reelection after their mandate and their successor’s mandates have passed. Haitian legislators naively believed these laws would effectively end dictatorship and fully transition Haiti into a democracy like the one that Americans enjoy. In 1991, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president of Haiti. Being raised from a low-class family, Aristide founded the Lavalas(struggling people’s organization), a social welfare agency in Port-au-Prince. Aristide was removed from power in a coup d’état in the same year. He restored power in 1994 with American assistance. He completed his term in 1996, and was reelected in 2001. His pacifist regime turned violent in his last mandate, and Aristide himself was reproached as a dictator. Finally some industrialists and socialites formed the Groupe de 184, the organization that removed Aristide as president in 2004.

 

Michel Martelly was elected as president in 2011 after a runoff election held between him and Mirlande Maniget. Indeed Martelly became a runoff candidate after Jude Célestin was ruled invalidated candidate. While he was being praised as the best president Haiti ever had, he is censured as a dictator just like Aristide. His five year rule was uninterrupted despite opposition questions about his eligibility to run for president. In the 2015 election, “voters” elected two candidates into the runoff, Jude Célestin and Jovenel Moïse. Moïse is a member of the P.H.T.K., Parti Haitien Tèt Kale. Not a member himself, Martelly supports and officially endorses the P.H.T.K. According to an exit poll done by Haitian Sentinal, only 6% of the people voted for Moïse, but he received 33% of the popular votes[4]. Following the election, Martelly reinstated Haiti’s armed force, for unknown reason. Massive protests have been organized since the election. After the election, many supporters of opposition parties reject the result and a handful of these protestors got arrested.

 

Haitians still have a long way to go towards democracy. The current authoritarian regime could not produce that democratic power. The upper class originally wanted Charles-Henri Baker, one of the richest person in Haiti, to be president, however he was not even close to the threshold. The socialites chose the second best alternative, Martelly, and want to keep him(and them) in power forever. Haiti may never attain democracy, or it may suddenly become democratic just after one night. Haitian government needs to not go back to its Duvalierst back trail and increase government transparency, otherwise Haiti will never complete the transition from the poorest to the second poorest.

 

References:

  1. Gusman, Jessica. “Dirt Poor Haitians Eat Mud Cookies To Survive.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.
  2. James, C. L. R. “Rise of Toussaint.” The Black Jacobins; Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. New York: Vintage, 1963. N. pag. Print.
  3. Haiti, Legislature. “Haiti: Constitution, 1987.” Haiti: Constitution, 1987.  Legislature of Haiti; Georgetown University, 29 Mar. 1987. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. Chapter III, Section A, Article 133
  4. Sentinal, Haiti. “Only 6% Voted for Jovenel Moïse According to Exit Poll.”Haiti Sentinel. Haiti Sentinel, 19 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.

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