November 16, 2015
The following is cross-posted from the Haiti Elections Blog, which was created to help promote the free access to information and accountability within the electoral process. The blog is co-managed by several non-governmental organizations who work with and within Haiti.
On November 5, the CEP released preliminary results for the first-round presidential election held on October 25, which prescribed a presidential run-off between PHTK’s Jovenel Moïse and LAPEH’s Jude Celestin on December 27. The November 8 release of results for the second-round legislative elections, also held on October 25, occurred with much less fanfare. While most attention has been fixed on the contested presidential results, the legislative results may be even more significant for the political future of Haiti.
According to the CEP’s results, PHTK’s Jovenel Moise (32.81%) and LAPEH’s Jude Celestin (25.27%) were the top two finishers, while Moise Jean-Charles of Pitit Dessalines finished third (14.27%) and Fanmi Lavalas’ Maryse Narcisse came in fourth (7.05%).
Broken down by region, Jovenel Moise’s strongest showing was in the north of the country; his share of the vote in the Nord Est, Nord Ouest and Nord departments was 62.6%, 54.6% and 48.6%, respectively. His worst results came from the Sud Est, where he received only 14.9% of the vote. For runner-up Jude Celestin, his popularity was highest in the Sud Est, where he won 46.7% of the vote while in the Nord it was lowest at 9.9%. Celestin’s share of the vote in this department was likely squeezed by the strong appeal of Jovenel Moïse and Moïse Jean-Charles. Pitit Dessalines’ Jean-Charles finished third and scored highest in the Artibonite (17.1%) and the Nord (29.1%), which Jean-Charles represented as a Senator for many years. Prior to that, under the Aristide government, Jean-Charles was the mayor of Milot, just outside the capital of the Nord, Cap-Haïtien. Fourth-place finisher Maryse Narcisse did the best in the Ouest (14.7%) and the Sud (11.8%).
The presidential tallies released by the CEP cannot necessarily be taken at face value. While OAS, EU observers and the Core Group have endorsed the results, Haitian civil society groups have denounced the massive fraud they claim occurred on October 25 and called for an independent investigation. Seven presidential candidates have added their voice to this call, including Celestin and third- and fourth-place finishers Moïse Jean-Charles and Maryse Narcisse. Accusations that political party mandataires were able to vote multiple times, ballot-box stuffing, and manipulation of results at the Tabulation Center have undermined many Haitians’ confidence in the announced results. Haiti appears to be on the cusp of a post-electoral crisis, whose outcome is far from determined.
If the preliminary results are allowed to stand, Haiti’s next president will possess an extremely weak mandate to govern. According to the CEP’s figures, over 73% of registered Haitian voters deciding to stay home on October 25, a percentage which may in reality be higher if multiple voting by mandataires was as widespread as many suspect. Repeating the pattern of the August 9 vote, the turnout for October 25’s presidential race was again lowest in the Ouest department at 20.3%. Turnout was highest in the Nord Est (38.8%) and Nippes (37.2%) departments. Jovenel Moise was thus able to finish first with the support of only 8.7% of registered voters, while Jude Celestin came in second with only 6.7% of registered voters backing him. In the second round scheduled for December 27, Haitians could be asked to choose between two candidates who were the first choice of less than 16% of registered voters.
The proportion of tally sheets (procès verbaux) not recuperated by the CEP after October 25 was 2.2%. Overall, tally sheets from 296 polling stations were not received by the CEP. This is much lower than after the first round vote in August, when nearly 18% of tally sheets never arrived at the Tabulation Center. Undoubtedly, this was due in large part to violence and disorder occurring on a much smaller scale during the presidential balloting. In only two places – Borgne (Nord) and Cotes-des-Fer (Sud Est)– was voting severely disrupted. Limonade was another constituency where a high proportion of tally sheets (38%) were not counted.At the regional level, most departments had only 1-2% of presidential tally sheets go missing. However, one region – the Sud Est – stands out, with 9.4% of tally sheets not received. This is also the department where Jude Celestin got the highest proportion of the vote.
The higher proportion of recuperated tally sheets may also be due to improvements in election day logistics. On both August 9 and October 25, UNOPS was responsible for picking up tally sheets and others sensitive electoral materials collected at the Bureau Electoral Departementaux (BEDs) and transporting it to the Tabulation Center. Members of the CEP, however, have accused UNOPS of poor disorganization and a lack of planning on August 9, resulting in numerous tally sheets being lost. UNOPS reportedly received increased funding from international donors and made several improvements prior to the October 25 vote. On the other hand, PHTK candidate Antoine Rodon Bien Aimé recently accused UNOPS of orchestrating a massive fraud on October 25, involving real tally sheets being switched for counterfeit ones during transportation.
The CEP also excluded from the presidential vote totals 490 tally sheets, amounting to 3.6% of the total, either due to fraud, tampering or clerical errors. Intriguingly, the two regions where PHTK’s Moïse received the most support are also those that recorded the highest number of quarantined tally sheets: the Nord Est (9.8%) and the Nord Ouest (6.4%). It is difficult to know, however, where the biggest problems were on October 25 since the CEP has not provided any breakdown of reasons why the tally sheets were quarantined.
This lack of transparency concerning decisions made at the Tabulation Center has been a major criticism of Haitian observer groups, who have demanded more information about the decision-making procedures used to quarantine tally sheets. Given that far fewer tally sheets were quarantined during the 2010 elections (312), which the U.S. alleged were plagued by fraud, greater clarity on this issue seems like an eminently reasonable demand.
With all eyes fixed on the outcome of the presidential races, far less attention has been given to what is perhaps the most significant story told by the preliminary results: Haiti’s next legislature will feature a formidable pro-Martelly bloc, regardless of who becomes president.
In the Chamber of Deputies, 93 races have already been decided. The 25 races that had to be rerun on October 25 due to violence in August will have a second round on December 27 to determine the winners, while the legislative race in Cote-de-Fer will also have to be rerun. President Martelly’s PHTK leads all parties with 26 deputies, while allied parties – namely Prime Minister Evans Paul’s KID, Martelly advisor Youri Latortue’s AAA, Steeve Khawly’s Bouclier and former paramilitary leader Guy Philippe’s Consortium – have claimed a further 19 deputy seats.
Pro-Martelly parties thus already have a combined 45 of 93 seats locked in, and another 21 candidates going to the second round. The second political force will be parties with roots in René Preval’s 2006 Lespwa coalition. Vérité (15 deputies), Inite (4 deputies) and LAPEH (4 deputies) will hold a total of 23 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and have another 10 candidates in the second round. Parties that claim support from the historic Lavalas base – Fanmi Lavalas (5 deputies), Renmen Ayiti (2 deputies), Pitit Dessalines (1 deputy) – have a total of 8 seats and 8 candidates in the second round.
The dominance of Martelly-aligned parties is less marked in the Senate, but that could change after the 6 second-round races set for December 27 (due to the level of irregularities in August, senate races in 3 departments had to be rerun in October). KID (3 Senators), PHTK (2 Senators) and AAA (1 Senator) hold a total of 6 out of 14 Senate seats already decided, while Vérité holds 3 seats and Fanmi Lavalas and Pitit Dessalines hold one seat each. With 9 Senate candidates from pro-Martelly parties going to the second round, this bloc is bound to increase its representation in the Senate by at least 3 seats, and could conceivably take all 6 seats in the three regions (Grand’Anse, Nord, Centre) when the second round is held. If so, Tet Kale-aligned parties would hold 12 of the 20 Senate seats. Of the 10 Senators with two years still remaining for their terms in office, 4 are from Inite, 3 from OPL, 2 from Steven Benoît’s Alternative, and one from Fanmi Lavalas.
Whether or not Jovenel Moïse ultimately wins the presidency, if the current results stand Michel Martelly’s political succession is assured. The ascendancy of Martelly’s Tet Kale party and its allies, however, represents less a growth in popularity than an ability to consolidate the ill-gotten gains of August 9. All of which does not augur well for political stability in Haiti.