While there were only two candidates, many more players continue to vie for influence in Haitian politics
Supporters of presidential candidate Michel Martelly gather in Port-Au-Prince. Allyn Gaestel.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- While the world looked east this past week, Haiti looked up. The country held its first ever run-off presidential election this weekend and instead of a pool of candidates vying for support -- there were 19 this past November -- there were just two: Michel Martelly, a former Kompa singer and self-proclaimed populist with right wing allies faced off against Mirlande Manigat a former four-month-long first lady, university professor, and administrator. Yet, while there were only two candidates, there is still a convergence of egos in Haitian politics, more crowded and pronounced than before.
Haiti is a land of mountains -- steep climbs and steep drops punctuate the landscape. The same could be said for its politics. Like a seesaw, leaders rise and fall. Initially lauded as saviors, they often end up reviled. Voters cling to far-reaching campaign promises, then grow frustrated as their lives remain the same, or worsen. With poverty and unemployment endemic, placing faith in a figure is one survival mechanism. Maybe this one, maybe this time, many hope, something can change. Politicians cater to this desperation, making a point to walk through impoverished neighborhoods, that at other times they speed past in their tinted SUVs.