The Discontented









IN HAITI the year is ending with squalls of street protest. Shows of public anger have been going on for weeks in Port-au-Prince, the capital, and other major cities. The protests are amorphous. Gatherings of differing sizes and intensities have been called by various entities, ranging from opposition parties to the trade unions.

If there is a thread running through them, it is a general discontent with President Michel Martelly’s 27-month-old administration. The country is still traumatised by 2010’s devastating earthquake and years of what Mr Martelly calls “bad governance”. (He means the period before he came into office; his critics say the maladministration continues.) This despite a slew of populist programmes to build things like stadiums and the attempts of Mr Martelly, a former entertainer, to win people over: he has even broadcast his own commentary of a big football match from Miami.

Even his supporters admit Mr Martelly himself is partly to blame for the trouble. He has been dilatory in pushing through a new electoral law, which has meant a two-year delay to elections for the Senate and in local municipalities. That gave the opposition a potent reason to mobilise protesters. One of the biggest and most violent demonstrations so far—on November 18th, the 210th anniversary of the battle that secured Haiti’s independence from France—focused on the overdue elections. That protest left one person dead as a few thousand Martelly supporters clashed with thousands of opposition marchers.

Under pressure—from the unquiet streets at home and from foreign diplomats—Mr Martelly has belatedly pushed through a new election law, which was published last week in Haiti’s official gazette. That earned him congratulations from the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Haiti, Sandra Honore, and from seven ambassadors of the international donors’ “core group” (America, France, Brazil, Spain, Canada, the European Union and the Organisation of American States). Read more: