A Breakdown of Haiti’s Preliminary Election Results

by Jake
Johnston (CEPR)

More than two
weeks after Haitians went to the polls to elect a new president, 16 Senators
and 25 Deputies, preliminary results from all races have finally been released.
Presidential results have already been contested by the second, third and
fourth place finishers while many legislative races will likely be contested as
well. However, if the preliminary results are upheld, the Nov. 20 elections
will have consolidated nearly unprecedented political power in the hands of
PHTK [the Haitian Bald Headed Party], the party of former president Michel
Martelly. While PHTK and its allies appear to have scored electoral victories
at both the presidential and legislative level, their political success has
occurred in a context of extremely low turnout, raising questions about the
significance of their mandate to govern moving forward.

Presidential Results

At the
presidential level, Jovenel Moïse of PHTK came in first place with 55.67% of the vote. If these results hold,
Moïse will secure the presidency without having to compete in a second-round
election. In second, third and fourth place were Jude Celestin of LAPEH with
19.52%, Jean-Charles Moïse of the Platfòm Pitit Dessalines (PPD) with 11.04%,
and Maryse Narcisse of Fanmi Lavalas (FL) with 8.99%.

            While the top four vote getters in
the 2016 election were exactly the same as in last year’s election, the results
of which were thrown out due to widespread irregularities, the vote’s composition changed dramatically. Jovenel
Moïse, who was widely believed to have benefitted from fraud in the 2015
elections, was the only one of the four to increase their vote total over last
year. This appears to largely stem from the far wider geographical support that
Jovenel Moïse received in 2016, coupled with the other top candidates losing
substantial ground.

[Put Haiti vote
share by department 2016]

As can be seen
above, Jovenel Moïse received over 50% of the vote in each department except
for the Artibonite and the Sud Est. Similar to in 2015, the strongest areas of
support were in the north, where he runs a banana export business. But perhaps
the most surprising result this year was that he also received 50% of the vote
in the Ouest department, home to some 40% of registered voters. In 2015, he
received just over 20% of the vote in the Ouest. This accounts for nearly the
entire increase in the total number of votes received by Jovenel Moïse this

            Still, even with Jovenel Moïse
increasing his votes from 2015, the main reason why he was able to win in the
first round was that all three other candidates lost significant numbers of
votes. Célestin received 185,000 fewer votes, Jean-Charles 104,000, and
Narcisse 14,000. If these candidates had simply received the same number of
votes as last year, Jovenel Moïse would not have been able to win in the first

            The long campaign, and the
consolidation of private sector funding behind PHTK certainly helped in this
regard. With more resources, PHTK was able to more actively campaign and build
support throughout the last year. It takes significant money to have party
staff across the entire country, an especially important factor in getting
one’s supporters to come out to vote on election day. As a result, PHTK had a
wider national presence of representatives than other parties, according to
local observer organizations. 

            Another factor that contributed to
the vastly different result was that many more voters were either unable or
unwilling to participate in this year’s election. The Provisional Electoral
Council (CEP), announced that participation was just 21%, compared to 26.6%
last year. However the rate announced by the CEP includes many thousands of
votes that were not counted due to irregularities. If one looks just at valid
votes, the participation in this year’s election drops to 17.3%. The 26.6%
figure from last year was based on valid votes.

            Overall, there were nearly 500,000
fewer votes counted this year than last, despite there being 300,000 more
registered voters. Even if one assumes that last year’s participation was artificially
high due to the number of so-called “zombie votes,” this is still a significant drop.
In each of Haiti’s ten departments, fewer votes were counted this year than

[Put chart of
Haiti candidate percent registered voters]

As can be seen
in the table above, if the preliminary results hold, Jovenel Moïse would become
president of Haiti with the support of just 9.6% of registered voters, or about
600,000 votes. While this is far more than any of his closest competitors, this
raises significant questions about his ability to galvanize the country once in

            That someone could be elected
Haiti’s president with the support of less than 10% of registered voters speaks
to just how low participation has fallen in recent years. Though the length of
the campaign and the impact of Hurricane Matthew has been blamed for the low
turnout in this year’s election, by looking at participation from recent presidential
elections one can see a clear trend of ever lower participation. The low
participation is a far broader issue than anything specific to this year’s

[Put table
showing Haiti decreasing turnout]

As can be seen
in the table above, since the 2010 earthquake, participation in presidential
elections has plummeted, with this year being the lowest in Haiti’s history. A
lack of faith in the electoral system, voter apathy, and barriers to
participation appear to all have contributed to this long-term decline. With
participation so low, the political stability that elections were expected to
bring will be difficult to ensure.

            The low turnout number in 2016 is
partially because of the high number of “tally sheets” that were quarantined
and not counted in the preliminary results due to irregularities. In 2015, just
3.6% of these sheets were quarantined and an additional 2.2% were never
received. This year, 10.5% were quarantined and about 1% were never received.
The higher number of quarantined votes could be the result of greater scrutiny
applied after last year’s election. It could also, as some parties have
alleged, be a sign that there were more problems than initially expected.
Either way, as parties contest the results, a closer look at these excluded
tally sheets, should be expected.

Preliminary Legislative Results

In the Nov. 20
election, first round races for ten Senate seats were held. In addition, second round elections were held for six Senate
seats and 25 Deputy seats, these being the completion of
last year’s aborted election. In the commune of Roseaux, the election for
Deputy was unable to be held due to flooding and the inability to properly
distribute voting materials.

            While results from the presidential
election in 2015 were thrown out, in January 2016, 92 Deputies and 14 Senators
elected in the same process were sworn in to office. Haiti had been without a
functioning parliament since January 2015 after no elections were held during
Martelly’s first four years in office.

            Over the last year, parliament has largely
been split between political factions and unable to pass much in the way of
legislation. When interim president Jocelerme Privert’s 120 day mandate
expired, Parliament was unable to hold a vote on replacing or extending him.

            As would be expected given the
performance of Jovenel Moïse at the presidential level, PHTK candidates for the
Senate and Chamber of Deputies also performed well according to the preliminary

            In the 24 Deputy races, candidates
representing 14 different political parties secured seats, bringing the total
number represented in the Chamber of Deputies up to 25. PHTK led all parties by
winning five seats, however together with close allies KID, AAA, Bouclier, and
Consortium, the bloc picked up nine seats. Together, these parties now have at
least 53 of the 116 members in the Chamber of Deputies. Though not an outright
majority, with the rest of the political sphere split, it gives PHTK and its
allies by far the largest voting bloc.

[Put graph of
Haiti deputies by party 2016]

Sixteen Senate
seats were also up for grabs on Nov. 20. In those races, six of which were
second round elections, PHTK secured an additional four seats, while allies
Bouclier and Consortium each picked up one. In the eight departments where
second round Senate elections will be held in January 2017, PHTK has five
candidates while Bouclier, AAA, Consortium, and KID combine for an additional

[Graph of Haiti
senate elected 2016]

Perhaps most
notable among the list above is the presence of Guy Philippe, elected to the
Senate from the Grand Anse department. Philippe was a paramilitary leader that helped
oust Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power in a 2004 coup, has been accused of
extrajudicial killings while a police commander in the 1990s by Human Rights
Watch, and more recently was allegedly involved in an armed raid on a police
station in the southern city of Les Cayes. He is also a DEA most-wanted
fugitive for his role in drug trafficking and money laundering. Philippe campaigned with Jovenel Moïse over the last year.

            Also of note is former Senator
Joseph Lambert, who ran and lost under the PHTK banner in last year’s election.
He is now set to return to the Senate under the KONA party.

            With the election of six Senators,
PHTK and its allies look poised to secure an absolute majority in the Senate.
The bloc is guaranteed to pick up at least two additional seats in the second
round Senate election in January, as candidates from allied parties compete
against each other in the Centre and Artibonite departments. Overall, in the
eight departments that will have second round elections, PHTK or allied parties
came in first in seven.

[Graph of haiti
senate by party 2016]

Participation of Women in Parliament

The Nov. 20
election did see the first women elected to Parliament. Of the 106 Deputies and
Senators that were sworn in last year none are women, despite women making up
more than 50% of the population. Based on preliminary results however, four
women have been elected to parliament, one in the Senate and three as Deputies.

            The electoral law mandated that at
least 30% of candidates for office be women, however the actual number who
registered and campaigned was far lower. There have also been many efforts to
increase the participation of women in elections. Among the data published by
the CEP in the preliminary results is a tally of the number of women who voted
at each voting booth, which would allow for further analysis and improvement
going forward.

The original version of this article was published in
the Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog on the website of the Center for
Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).