After three years of delayed polls and simmering political unrest, Haiti’s rusty electoral machinery is finally grinding into gear. By the end of the year, the impoverished Caribbean republic ought to have a newly elected president, parliament and local municipal governments — a test for any developing nation. Haitians have not been able to vote in an election since popular singer Michel Martelly won the presidency in a controversial 2011 poll. Since then, presidential nominees have replaced elected mayors in many towns and the Senate and House of Representatives have shrunk away. But the long delay has not dampened the ambition of Haiti’s political elite.
More than 120 parties have registered to take part in the contests, in a country of scarcely 11 million with a checkered electoral past.
Not all will field candidates for all the races, but the sheer number of factions will add to the challenge facing organizers in an unruly country reeling from an earthquake and a cholera epidemic.
“We can’t restrict a citizen’s right to form a political party,” sighed Mosler Georges, executive director of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). “But we have to admit it’s going to difficult in logistical terms.”