Political Parties

Haiti Table of Contents

During presidential campaigns, political parties organized under the banner of specific personalities. Political parties have existed in name for a long time, but they have not exerted any independent influence on the political system. Rather, parties have served as campaign vehicles for individual politicians.

In the 1870s and the 1880s, the emergence of the Liberal Party (Parti Liberal--PL) and the National Party (Parti National- -PN) reflected the polarization between black and mulatto elites. In the wake of the United States occupation (1915-34), nationalist parties organized around the issue of resistance to foreign occupation. These parties included the Patriotic Union (L'Union Patriotique) and the Nationalist Union (L'Union Nationaliste). During the presidential campaign of 1946, there were many candidates and parties, including the Popular Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste Populaire--PSP), the Unified Democrat Party (Parti Démocrate Unifié--PDU), the Worker Peasant Movement (Mouvement Ouvrier Paysan--MOP), the Popular Democratic Party of Haitian Youth (Parti Démocratique Populaire de la Jeunesse Haïtienne--PDPJH), the Communist Party of Haiti (Parti Communiste d'Haïti--PCH), and a federation of groups known as the Haitian Revolutionary Front (Front Révolutionnaire Haïtien, FRH).

The presidential campaign of 1956-57 included candidates who ran under the banners of the National Agricultural Industrial Party (Parti Agricole et Industriel National--PAIN) led by Louis Déjoie, the MOP led by Daniel Fignolé, the PN led by Clement Jumelle, and the National Unity Party (Parti Unité Nationale-- PUN) of François Duvalier. During the Duvalier years, the three non-Duvalierist parties continued to function in exile in the United States mainland and Puerto Rico.

Both Duvalier governments banned or severely restricted opposition political parties. Consequently, about a dozen opposition parties operated in exile, including Leslie Manigat's RDNP based in Caracas, the Unified Haitian Communist Party (Parti Unifié des Communistes Haïtiens--PUCH) based in France, the National Progressive Revolutionary Haitian Party (Parti National Progressiste Révolutionnaire Haïtien--Panpra) headed by Serge Gilles and based in France, and the Democratic Revolutionary Party of Haiti (Parti Révolutionnaire Démocratique d'Haïti) based in the Dominican Republic and subsequently known in Haiti as the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Haiti (Mouvement Démocratique pour la Libération d'Haïti--MODELH), headed by François Latortue.

During the presidential campaign of 1987, more than 100 candidates announced their candidacy. As of August 1987, twentyone political parties had registered. None of these parties, however, developed a nationwide organization. At the time of the sabotaged elections of November 19, 1987, the race was expected to be won by one of four candidates: Sylvio C. Claude, standard bearer of the Christian Democrat Party of Haiti (Parti Démocrate Chrétien d'Haïti--PDCH); Marc Bazin of the Movement for the Installation of Democracy in Haiti (Mouvement pour l'Instauration de la Démocratie en Haïti--MIDH); Louis Dejoie II, son of the 1957 presidential candidate, representing PAIN; and Gérard Gourgue of the National Cooperation Front (Front National de Concertation--FNC).

The Gourgue candidacy under the FNC appeared to have considerable support in urban and rural areas. The FNC was a loose federation of parties, community groups, and trade unions based on an organization called the Group of 57. The party included the National Committee of the Congress of Democratic Movements (Comité National du Congrès des Mouvements Démocratiques--Conacom), the Patriotic Unity Bloc (Bloc Unité Patriotique--BIP), and Panpra, which had re-established itself in Haiti with the return of Serge Gilles. Bazin and Dejoie also returned from exile to organize their presidential campaigns. Claude's PDCH and the Social Christian Party of Haiti (Parti Social Chrétien d'Haïti--PSCH) led by Grégoire Eugene were the only two political parties organized in Haiti that sought to operate openly during the Jean-Claude Duvalier years. The remaining parties had either formed during the post-Duvalier period or had returned from exile to join the campaign.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress