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There was a famous politician who was fond of quoting two characters from Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Part 1.” In the particular segment of the play, Glendower says, “I can call spirits from the vasty deep.” To which Hostpur replies, “Why, so can I, or so can any one; but will they come when you do call for them?” In a very real sense, this exchange describes the essence of the politics of elections.
And as Haitians, we are all too familiar with those who claim that they can call the spirits.
During the presidential election cycle in Haiti, I find a hint of similarity between this quote, the different campaign slogans and what is at stake this Sunday. Given the fact that there is no reliable polling system, most of the presidential candidates have assumed the front-runner position and believe that they will be victorious.
Steven Benoit claims that “Tout Moun Dakò..Everyone agrees.”; Jean-Henry Céant has asserted that “Tout Moun ladan’l…Everybody is onboard.”; Jovenel Moïse is literally the people’s “nèg bannann…plantain man”; and Jude Celestin says he is the “Chwa pèp la…The choice of the people.”
There are other notable quotes and slogans. But if one went around the country and questioned voters, I suspect that the results would surprise us. But it is doubtful that the majority of folks will go vote. Further, most voters may not get a fair chance to cast a vote. Low voter turnout—due to a confluence of factors—is perhaps the Achilles heel of elections in Haiti.
The idea of casting a vote is a sacred right in a system of self-government. I know that the Haitian people are much attached to their government. Anyone who has set foot in Haiti or in a Haitian community anywhere can attest to this.
We live in the iron lung of politics!
If Sunday is to be successful, it will require that Haitians be united with each other, attached to the principle of self-government and the laws. Elections are about fairness and respect. Haitians must remember that there is a fundamental difference between opposition and enemy. Though passion may put us in different camps during the process of choosing our next leaders, it must not break our bonds of affection.
The candidates have made their respective case. The list of promises ranges from agricultural reform, employment, renewable energy and infrastructure reform. There is no doubt that the candidates have managed to get our attention. We waited five long years for elections, and the spirits are stirring again in that vasty deep. On Sunday, it will be up to us to tell them where to go.
I wish you safe elections on Sunday! Go vote, Haiti!