“Greatest Possible Participation by Candidates” – NYT on Haitian Elections

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Monday, 10 May 2010 15:21
A New York Times editorial today makes some important points regarding Haiti’s next elections, which have yet to be scheduled, and as President Préval suggests he may need to stay on beyond the constitutional limits of his term. The editorial states:
The process must emphasize the greatest possible flexibility and participation by voters and candidates. Displaced people should be allowed to vote where they currently live, not their old destroyed neighborhoods.

Opposition parties will need aid to organize and campaign. In a country where transportation and communication are difficult and expensive, Mr. Préval’s Unity Party should not be given undue advantages.
The editorial would have been strengthened, however, by explicitly calling for political inclusion, and referencing the previous arbitrary exclusion of 15 political parties from the ballot prior to the January 12 earthquake. Since it is unclear whether Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council plans to continue to exclude these parties, as before, and since the prolonged delay represents an opportunity for the Council to rectify the situation and allow all eligible parties to compete, it is important that media outlets and other interested observers raise this issue if there is to be “the greatest possible …participation by voters and candidates.” Such inclusion will also help ensure that Préval’s Unity Party “not be given undue advantages.”

Foreign aid to political parties, as called for by the New York Times, is also inherently problematic. In many past instances – in Haiti and in many other countries - such U.S. aid has been often strengthened parties and candidates more favorable to U.S. interests. In Haiti’s case, such aid was used to undermine the democratically-elected of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, as detailed in the pages of the New York Times’ news section.

Tags: elections