Haiti Legislative and Local Elections: Overdue and Presidential Election: Due by November 2021 (delays possible)

Voters in the 2006 elections in Haiti. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Agencia Brasil/Marcello Casal Jr. (CC BY 3.0 BR)

Freedom House Rating

Partly Free
Government Type
Semi-Presidential Republic
11.1 million
Local and Partial Parliamentary Elections (one third of the Senate and the entire lower house)
Presidential Election
November 2021 (due – delays possible)
Presidential Election Re-Run
November 16, 2016
Presidential Election
October 25, 2015

Haiti is overdue to hold local and parliamentary elections. The elections were initially scheduled for October 27, 2019 but have been postponed indefinitely. In addition, the next presidential election is due by November 2021. Further, the country may hold a constitutional referendum before any of aforementioned elections take place.

Political Context

Haiti has a long history of political instability, having had 15 president in the past 33 years, since the fall of the brutal Duvalier dictatorship.

The country is currently in a political crisis related to allegations of fraud followed Haiti’s presidential 2015 election. A commission found that the election had indeed been fraudulent, and ordered a re-reun, which had only 18 percent turnout. President Jovenel Moïse was elected with 56 percent of ballots cast. The opposition alleged fraud once again, but an election tribunal conducted an investigation and certified the results.

Violent protesters have subsequently demanded the president’s ouster. The 2015-2016 parliamentary elections also saw significant allegations of fraud. Consequently, opposition lawmakers blocked multiple attempts to ratify a new prime minister. Moreover, the opposition has demanded Moïse’s resignation.

Possible Constitutional Referendum and Further Delays of Elections in Haiti

Moïse has been ruling by decree since January 2020, and the international community, including the United States government, has called on Haiti’s officials to set a date for elections and end the crisis.

However, Moïse has rejected calls for elections. He is instead pushing a constitutional referendum that would strengthen the powers of the presidency, which was weakened with Haiti’s 1987 Magna Carta, which passed in the wake of the brutal dictatorship of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and prior to that, his father, François “Papa Doc” Duvalier. The Duvaliers ruled Haiti for nearly 30 years, and employed death squads (the notorious “tontons macoutes”) and a cult of personality cloaked in voodoo legends to maintain their power.

Moïse has said the country will hold elections following constitutional reform, and that a stronger presidency could prevent future political crises. In that vein, Moïse argues that a stronger presidency could bring stability.

Curated News and Analysis

Sandra Lemaire, Voice of America (October 16, 2020): Pompeo Calls on Haiti to Hold ‘Overdue’ Legislative Elections

Andre Paultre, Reuters (September 19, 2020): Haiti moves closer to constitutional referendum, elections

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald (September 16, 2020): U.S. tells Haiti leaders on delayed elections: ‘Do your respective jobs’

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Updated October 25, 2020

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