Originally: Variations sur le thPme de l?incohérence

par Claude MoVse

The latest Haitian elections have dragged on for two years, reflecting the difficulties of institutionalization that we have experienced ever since the vote on the constitution of 1987. After the presidential and legislative votes, the others remain hanging, and we remain in limbo waiting for the mayoral and local elections. While these remain undone, the state is incomplete. Everyone is joining the call for the vote to be held without further delay.

President Preval, meeting with the heads of state and government of CARICOM, undertook to hold the mayoral and local elections. Because he did not mention a date or give the reasons for the delay, he did not reassure those who accuse him of putting off the vote in order to gain time to take control of the different organs of local power.

If, however, one considers the legal situation, this issue does not depend on the central government. Without doubt the financing and security do, but the scheduling and the organization of elections are the province of the electoral commission. In this case the delays are so disturbing that the president, who has the constitutional duty to “assure the normal functioning of government agencies and the continuity of the state,” should use his authority to get the elections moving. The dilemma is that the constitution gives him this responsibility without indicating the means of exercising it. Apart from providing the necessary funds, any further intervention would arouse suspicion. This is true in every aspect of institutionalization, not only elections.

We also have our deputies and senators who belabor the obvious, such as, The local elections must take place so as to fill the institutional void. There are other parliamentarians who act as if they are ignorant of the prerogatives that come with the job. They organize press conferences to warn the government about the electoral delay. One needs to ask them if they really believe in the institution to which they have been elected. They don?t seem to know that they have the right to question the cabinet ministers, to make inquiries and follow up through the entire government administration, on all public policy. A month after the second parliamentary session has begun, who is organizing their work? Do they plan a session of questions to the government?

As far as the electoral commission is concerned, it slyly pleads lack of money as its excuse for inaction. It says it is proposing two scenarios to the government: one voting day for which it would charge a mere $13.5 million, or two voting days for $18 million. So clearly this electoral body continues on its erratic course of the last two years.

It has in its hands, if not the finances, then all the other elements. It is the one who sets the dates, through delay after delay. It is the one who so botched the senatorial election that the Nord-Est finds itself without a senator. For how long?

In practice, this has been a commission of improvisations. It never had a game plan. Those who cannot plan are condemned to improvise.

But improvising in a crisis can lead to catastrophe.