Haiti’s population in 2015 was estimated to be around 10.8 million people, making it the third most populous country in the Caribbean. The majority of Haitians identify as Christian, with a sizeable minority of Vodou practitioners also present. The Haitian economy is heavily reliant on agriculture and tourism, with these two industries accounting for nearly two-thirds of the country’s GDP. Other exports include coffee and textiles. Haiti has strong trade ties with its Caribbean neighbours, particularly Dominican Republic and Jamaica, as well as other countries worldwide. In terms of politics, Haiti is a unitary presidential republic with a multi-party system. In 2015 Michel Martelly was the President after winning reelection in 2011. In foreign relations, Haiti is a member of both the United Nations and Organization of American States (OAS) and is actively involved in international affairs such as peacekeeping operations. Relations with its Caribbean neighbours have been mostly positive but tensions remain between Haiti and Dominican Republic over immigration disputes. See ehealthfacts for Haiti in the year of 2005.
Haiti. In the first round of the presidential election on October 25, the ruling party PHTK (Haitian Tèt Kale Party) candidate Jovenel Moïse won the most votes by just under 33%, while opposition candidate Jude Célestin from LAPEH (Alternative Alliance for Progress and Liberation) received just over 25% of the votes cast. However, the second round of the elections, which would have been held on December 27, since neither of the two got their own majority, was postponed indefinitely. Moïse’s success in October was expected, and the 60 invited EU observers initially hailed the conduct of the election and a 26% turnout. But the aftermath was soon characterized by accusations of electoral fraud, not least from Célestin, and the electoral commission’s poor administration. The claims of widespread electoral fraud were supported by several independent observers and human rights organizations.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Port-au-Prince is the capital of Haiti which is located in North America. The second round of the regional and congressional elections on August 8 was also debated. The election campaign was characterized by violence and turnout was as low as 18%. It was not until three months later that the Election Commission published a preliminary result, which showed that neither party won its own majority in either of the two chambers of Congress and that the election had to be re-elected in 25 constituencies at the same time as the second round of the presidential election. However, the PHTK appeared to be the largest party with at least 33 out of a total of 118 seats in the second chamber. PHTK also won in 37 of the country’s 140 mayoral elections, including the capital Port-au-Prince.
- Also see AbbreviationFinder.org for Haiti country abbreviations, including geography, history, economy and politics.
The United Nations Special Stabilization Force MINUSTAH published its annual report in August, which highlighted several advances in the security field in Haiti. Among other things, the election movement in August was calmer than usual and the murder rate went down. At the same time, the UN Security Council decided to extend MINUSTAH’s mission to October 2016.
Politics, elections and presidents
Haiti has a long history of political conflict, turmoil, coup and authoritarian leaders, but after Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s departure in 2004, power has repeatedly been transferred between presidents democratically, despite demonstrations and accusations of electoral fraud – and not least the earthquake in 2010 and hurricane Matthew in 2016.
The presidential election in the fall of 2000 brought Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power for the third time. He received more than 91 percent of the vote, in a post-election election, boycotted by the opposition and heavily criticized by international election observers. Aristide’s party Fanmi Lavalas also won big in the parliamentary and local elections that year, with a turnout of around 80 percent.
Violent riots and political turmoil around the election led the US, EU and Canada to threaten to halt financial aid to the country. The turmoil was tempered by an agreement between the government and 15 opposition parties on a broad-based council to prepare and monitor the next election, scheduled in 2004. However, Aristide canceled the election during a wave of violence that threatened to evolve into regular civil war – with 200 the annual celebration of the country’s independence as a kind of prelude.
The opposition reacted strongly to the cancellation and organized mass demonstrations demanding Aristide’s departure. At the same time, armed criminals ravaged ever more freely with looters. Paramilitary units and a death squadron resurrected under the leadership of former rebel leaders. The government also had its supporters among the armed bands as the government’s only security force, the police, was defeated.
The community was in full resolution, a humanitarian catastrophe was moving closer, and several attempts at peacemaking from the United States, the former colonial power of France and from neighboring countries failed. The political part of the opposition gathered in the “Group of 184”, by the number of parties, organizations and other actors behind it. The turning point came when Aristide in March 2004 announced his departure and went into exile. US and later UN forces (see MINUSTA above) stepped in and took control, and Supreme Court Justice Boniface Alexandre was sworn in as interim president until the next election.
René Préval has long been an important figure in Haiti’s political life, not least as president for two terms, from 1996 to 2001 and from 2006 to 2011. He was therefore Haiti’s leader and face outward when the earthquake disaster struck in 2010. Préval’s greatest wish for Haiti was more stability, which he expressed in an interview one month after the earthquake:
“Which way should Haiti choose? The way of stability. Not coup d’etat, no searches, no burning down people’s homes, no burning of car tires. We cannot just destroy. We have to build. That’s the way we have to go, so we can stop saying we’re unlucky. “
Preval also symbolized this stability in several ways: twice he was elected president in a democratic way, and twice he handed the presidential office to another politician after an election – both of which are the first in Haiti’s history. In 2011, he was also the first president in 25 years to leave the presidential office both alive and without going to prison or exile.
The 2015/2016 election and Hurricane Matthew
The 2015/2016 election, which brought Jovenel Moïse to power, was contentious and led to demonstrations and riots. The first round of the presidential election was held October 15, 2015, and according to the census, Moïse received the most votes, but no more than the 50 percent needed to be declared the winner in the first place. Subsequent charges of cheating and demonstrations led to several postponements of the second round, before the first round was canceled and held again 13 months later, November 20, 2016.
The election was supposed to be held October 9, but was postponed when Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti on October 4. After both external and internal pressure, the elections were still held in November 2016, despite all the devastation caused by the hurricane. According to the World Health Organization, Matthew left over two million affected and of these, 1.4 million people needed immediate relief. Consequently, turnout was very low, about 21 percent, and the election result was not finally clear until January 2017.
Jovenel Moïse is a successful businessman who, like his predecessor Michel Martelly, stood without previous political experience. Moïse represents Party Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK – “The Haitian Party of the Bald”), and was supported by the outgoing Martelly in the election campaign. In the first round of the new election, Moïse received more than half of the votes cast, and was thus declared electoral winner.