Haiti’s Political Parties-Why So Many

Over two hundred years have passed since its Independence, and Haiti remains trailing behind the developing world. Now that we have entered a new and strange phase in Haiti, perhaps the lowest ever, from sporadic kidnappings, murders, to a society of lawlessness, should we sit and wait for solutions from a dubious International Community? Or should we be seeking our own solutions to our existing problems? The country that used to be the model for freedom lovers now finds itself in a different kind of a struggle, a struggle where poverty, public safety, education and unemployment become the core enemy of its inhabitants. What should we do to eradicate Haiti’s rampant problems? Where should we begin? Or should we even bother? Others, including myself, would argue that, amongst other things, Haiti’s political party system is a menace to its political stability. Thus, we cannot turn our backs on Haiti. We must help control and reduce the problems of Haiti.

The land of Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Mackandal, after all, my land has amassed so much unsolved political mysteries that I frequently wonder where to start in the process of solving its dilemmas. Though I find it difficult to pinpoint the real reasons behind Haiti’s troubles, to not attempt to seek possible solutions is adding to its misery. I would say that one of the reasons why Haiti is trailing behind the developing world is the weakness of its political party system. In fact, it seems that Haiti’s political party system has greatly contributed to its current stalemate.

Following the fall of President Jean-Claude Duvalier, political parties have mushroomed throughout the country. Haitian “leaders” from all over the world, especially from the U.S, France and Canada invaded the streets of Port-au-Prince hoping to succeed Duvalier. It was a “marathon” to the presidency. Such an attitude was then understandable for there was a vacuum in the Haitian political system. However, I’m afraid that it continues till today. To mock the people, the word on the streets of Haiti was then “no more presidents for life”. While the “leaders” are calling for changes and “saying” no to president for life, they are elected for life within their own political parties. Isn’t this ironic? We can take RDNP/Lesly F. Manigat, MDN/Hubert Deronceray, and KONAKOM/Victor Benoit as examples of leaders who are elected for life within their political parties. It is a presidential ego that is driving them so blindly that nobody seems to notice the outcry of the Haitians to the political party system. The truth is such that these “leaders” would take a five years sabbatical from the public after losing a presidential election, however, if there’s a coup d’état, they would resurface hoping to be offered the presidency.

I truly am certain that these “leaders’” sole purpose is winning a presidential election. There is no evidence to support the contrary. These aforementioned “leaders” could have been remarkable lawmakers or great mayors but, in Haiti, there is a myth about the presidency. One has to become president to prove his patriotism or to prove what he can do for the Republic. Having said this, I would argue that political party reform is necessary and must take place in Haiti for we cannot let such a weak and poorly organized system decide on the future of the country. I mention the future of the country because; I believe that, the well-being of Haiti is fundamentally rest on the direction taken by its political party system. It is also true for long term political stability to take place in Haiti. In fact, long term political stability in Haiti is contingent upon a complete political party reform. The current system is problematic and an invitation to voting flaws and chaos as it has been proven to be so. The question becomes why so many Parties?

There are more than sixty-seven political parties in a country of approximately eight and a half million souls. This is a staggering number that tends to grow daily. Though successfully organized, the last presidential election in Haiti proved the weakness of the political parties to compete. Among 34 candidates running for the office of the presidency in February 2006, 33 of them ranked on the bottom 13% of the vote tallied. What this is suggesting is that a win for President Preval could very well be a loss for Haiti, that is to say, in the absence of a strong political process, the winner is deemed to be irrelevant. Because of so many candidates, the political process becomes a joke and, quite frankly, most Haitians are not willing to laugh at Haiti’s sadness; and so they would stay home and not participate in the electoral process. As such, the legitimacy of the vote will always be questioned. Whereas, has there been a three to four political party system, the electorates would have had a greater influence in choosing the highest authority figure of the land.

As Haiti tries to get back on track, with the new elected government of Preval/Alexis, there isn’t a better time to challenge the political party system of Haiti. This government should make political party reform one of its priorities in order for political stability to take place in Haiti. Sadly, in Haiti, if one disagrees with all of the existing political parties, he will gather a few friends, sometimes reactionaries, and form his political party. This practice is unacceptable and it must be stopped. Most of Haiti’s political parties are frankly what is known to be organization of peers and associates rather than political parties. We must set a clear difference between a political party and an organization of gangsters. A political party entails broad wisdom instead of the savoir-faire of a few narrow minded individuals whose sole purposes are trying to earn a living and winning a presidential election. When engaging in politics is no longer viewed as a way of earning a living, the number of Haiti’s political parties will be dramatically declined. What I’m suggesting here is that, when life becomes unbearable in Haiti, one forms a political party as a way of dealing with the hardship of life. This practice cannot be continued for it will ruin the country to the point of no return and we must therefore call for a complete political party reform in Haiti.

An alternative could be a Three Grand National Political Party System. As I attempt to address the problem of Haiti’s political party system, I would suggest the following 3 parties as an alternative to the current brouhaha:

1- LAVALAS

2- CONVERGENCE DEMOCRATIC

3- INDEPENDENT (including the group of 184)

As the principle political actors of Haiti, both LAVALAS and the CONVERGENCE DEMOCRATIC have proven to be well known, competitive and dominant. What is left to do is naming an Independent party. I would further argue that the group of 184 is perfectly fit to become the Independent party of Haiti. With these changes in place, Haitian “leaders” would be forced to depersonalize the political parties and work together by putting forth concrete ideas to better their respective parties. It would be excited to see Haitian “leaders” competing with each others in primaries within their own parties, wouldn’t it? At one point, when the Convergence Democratic emerged, I have sensed a change in the direction of the political party system in Haiti; but the vision of this group was far from what I propose above for the idea behind it was not for the love of Haiti but the hatred of Aristide. Anyone who followed Haitian’s politics of the past decade would concur that these 3 political entities combined would easily claim about 85% of the Haitian electorates, thus any other parties would be seen as a lesser figure in Haitian politics.

Is such a proposition realistic in Haiti? Some of us would be apt to argue that Haitians are not capable of working together for they are not trustworthy when it comes to defending the interest of Haiti. Nevertheless, I believe that we can go beyond our misgivings of each others and work together in the interest of Haiti. Should it be exactly my proposition? Absolutely not, but we must agree that Haiti’s political party system is in a dire need for reform.

Political party reform is a necessary endeavor that sooner or later must take place in Haiti seeing that the consequences of it not taking place are greater than we could imagine. The road to a political party reform in Haiti is not at all trouble-free; however, we cannot afford standing, hoping for a miracle from outsiders, while the country is draining away. Haiti is loudly crying for help and it will take courage, discipline, leadership, responsibility and sacrifices to meet its needs. As citizens of this lost paradise, it is our civic duty to put aside our political differences, come forward and launch a crusade behind political party reform in Haiti. We must fearlessly and vehemently come together and demand that our political party system be reformed, and to do the contrary, is simply saying “hell” to the spirits of our ancestors.

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