Haiti has experienced much political turmoil over the last few years, culminating in a recent electoral crisis that has paralyzed its fragile government. To understand the problem, it’s important to realize how different and complex their electoral system is and how much corruption affects its results.
The Haitian government is a republic with a president, prime minister and a legislature. The president is elected in a two round voting system in which only the two candidates with the most votes from the first election may participate in the second round. Haiti’s first round of presidential elections (involving 55 candidates) on October 25, 2015 immediately sparked riots and protests over multiple allegations of intimidation and fraud. The second round of elections has subsequently been delayed. Should the claims be validated, the presidential candidates moving onto the second round would change. Jovenel Moïse, former President Michel Martelly’s hand-picked candidate, had the highest percent of the votes at 32.81%. However, according to an Igarapé Institute exit poll, he only gained about 6% of actual votes, placing him fourth and ineligible for the presidential runoff. The many political actors and conflicting interests have made it difficult to agree on the second round of voting.
Former President Martelly left office February 7th without an elected successor. Hours before his departure, he and both houses of the National Assembly agreed upon a last minute deal that implemented a provisional government until runoff elections take place. In late April 2016, the provisional government created the Evaluation and Electoral Verification Commission (CIEVE) to check the validity of the votes and determine which candidates should participate in the runoff election. This commission was given 30 days to complete their task and has been under pressure from Moïse, his PHTK Party, and other vested interests who want the results of the initial election to remain unchanged.
Since then, CIEVE has discredited the results of the first round on the basis of electoral fraud and invalid ballots. The U.S. urges quick resolution of this election issue but despite the opposition of the PHTK Party, Moïse, and former President Martelly, CIEVE has scheduled new rounds of elections on October 9, 2016 and January 8, 2017.
Adding to the confusion, the interim presidency of Jocelerme Privert, expired on June 14, 2016. Officially no one is sure who is in charge but, for now, Privert continues to act as the de facto president.