A troubled country has the chance to take a step forward
FOR the capital of a country where recent election turnouts have been low, Port-au-Prince does not lack for political advertising. Lampposts, electricity poles, even the lintels of lottery shops are plastered with toothy photos of the 53 candidates who are competing to be Haiti’s president in elections that begin on October 25th. Hundreds more are vying for parliamentary and municipal seats.
Though teeming with would-be presidents, Haiti barely has any elected officials. Just 11 are in office in the entire country: the current president, Michel Martelly, and ten senators. Elections were delayed twice—in 2011 and 2013—and parliament was dissolved early this year, leaving Mr Martelly, who cannot run again, to govern by decree. This month’s vote is thus a step towards restoring a functioning elected government.
Whoever leads it will face huge challenges. More than five years after an earthquake flattened much of the capital, Haiti is hobbled by corruption and political instability, and still vulnerable to disasters. The biggest shortcomings are in education, electricity and governance, says Gilles Damais of the Inter-American Development Bank. Money to fix them is scarce. Income from foreign donors dropped from 12% of GDP in 2010 to 7% last year. The government’s domestic revenues were a scant $1.1 billion, or 13% of GDP, in 2013.