Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

The Gourdean Knot– Jovenel Moise tries to govern Haiti without a parliament

Original article published in The Economist

Even before it was dissolved, parliament was dysfunctional and its relationship with the president was broken. The 119-seat lower house was divided among 20-odd parties, which mostly represent the interests of local bigwigs. The 30-seat senate had 15. Mr Moïse, unable to form a majority, has named four prime ministers since 2017. One quit, one was felled by a no-confidence vote and two others never won parliamentary approval. Since March the government has operated without parliamentary authorisation. For the second year in a row, no budget was passed. Bureaucrats operate under the budget for 2017-18, unadjusted for inflation. The weakness of the gourde, Haiti’s currency, pushed up prices by 30% over the last two years.

Mr Moïse’s answer to these problems is a new constitution, which would give the president more power. He told The Economist that he would put it to a popular vote in 2020. A legislative election would follow.

But, as the Creole saying goes, “behind the mountains there are mountains.” The political crisis is one of Haiti’s many troubles, and makes all of them much harder to solve. More than half the population lives on less than the national poverty line of $2.41 a day. The share of Haitians with access to clean drinking water dropped to 52% in 2015 from 62% in 1990. Some 3.7m Haitians, a third of the population, face crisis-level food insecurity, according to an international measure known as the ipc. That is forecast to rise to 4.1m this year.

 

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