To Address Its Crisis, Haiti Needs an Elected Government

To Address Its Crisis, Haiti Needs an Elected Government
Protesters demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Ariel Henry march past a security vehicle, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 6, 2024 (AP photo by Odelyn Joseph).

Haiti should hold an election. With no elected leadership currently in place, the hemisphere’s toughest governance crisis would be helped by a new election to put in place a legitimate government that can begin solving the country’s challenges. It’s a simple and obvious recommendation that quickly becomes complicated by the country’s current situation as well as its recent and distant past.

Democracies, by definition, hold regular elections. They are a key mechanism by which the population can choose its leaders and hold them accountable. Dictatorships, by convention, also hold regular elections, even though they are rigged to keep the ruling regime in power. For authoritarians, elections are a useful facade for legitimacy and also serve to keep bureaucratic power structures in line.

And then there is Haiti. The country last went to the polls over seven years ago, in November 2016, and there is no timetable for new elections. The absence of elections means that Haiti can no longer be considered a democracy. But the regime’s weakness and its lack of control over the country’s territory also mean it’s not in the same league as the authoritarian dictatorships in places like Cuba and Nicaragua.

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