Politics of Haiti
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politics and government of
The Politics of Haiti take place in the framework of a unitary semi-presidential republic, where the president is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government. The politics of the country are considered historically unstable due to various coup d'états, regime changes, military juntas and internal conflicts. After the deposition of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, however, Haitian politics entered a period of relative democratic stability. The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Haiti a "hybrid regime" in 2019.
On February 29, 2004, a coup d'état led by the Group of 184 ousted the popularly elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, allegedly with the assistance of the French and United States governments; U.S. and French soldiers were on the ground in Haiti at the time, recently arrived (See controversy).
The first elections since the overthrow were held on February 8, 2006 to elect a new President. René Préval was declared to have won with over 50 percent of the vote. In 2008, Parliament voted to dismiss President Preval's Prime Minister following severe rioting over food prices. His selected replacement for the post was rejected by Parliament, throwing the country into a prolonged period without a government.
Yvon Neptune was appointed Prime Minister on March 4, 2002, but following the overthrow of the government in February 2004, he was replaced by an interim Prime Minister, Gérard Latortue. The constitutional Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune languished in jail for over a year, accused of complicity in an alleged massacre in Saint-Marc. United Nations officials, expressing skepticism towards the evidence, called for either due process or his release. Having entered custody in June 2004, Neptune was formally charged on September 20, 2005, but was never sent to trial. He was finally released on 28 July 2006. The last Prime Minister, Jacques-Édouard Alexis, entered office in 2006 and was removed in April 2008. Michèle Pierre-Louis received approval to become the next Prime Minister from both houses in July.
In 2011, singer Michel Martelly was elected the president of Haiti and sworn into office after René Préval completed his term. His regime is rated by some as free and by some as authoritarian. He is expected to complete his term in 2016. In 2013, Haiti ranked #8 in the Fragile States Index
An election had been held, awaiting for runoff. The election was censured by the Haitian public and Medias as "not-free" and "controlled". According to an exit poll conducted by Haitian Sentinel, only 6% of the voters voted for Jovenel Moïse. The other presidential runoff candidate, Jude Célestin, expressed his disapproval towards the lack of transparency of the CEP, Conseil Electoral Provisoire, Provisional Electoral Council. 30 other candidates commented the election as controlled disregarding public trust.
The lack of voter turnout has been a major issue for Haitian elections, as only approximately 15% of eligible voters will vote in an election. CEP does not release data about turnout in elections, however, according to unofficial population clocks, official census data and electoral data, only 15.94% of all Haitians voted in this election. Proper rejection of votes had been a problem lately, as 7.71% of all votes are rejected according to CEP.
Political corruption is a common problem in Haiti. The country has consistently ranked as one of the most corrupt nations according to the Corruption Perceptions Index, a measure of perceived political corruption. In 2006, Haiti was ranked as the most corrupt nation out of the 163 that were surveyed for the Index. In 2012, Haiti was #165 out of #176. The International Red Cross reported that Haiti was 155th out of 159 countries in a similar survey of corrupt countries.
Creole in Politics and Corruption
French has been the major language in Haitian politics since the colonial era. Scholars have since referred to Haitian Creole, the other language of Haiti as linguistically inferior. Creole grammar is said to be simplified and lacking sophistication compared to its European ancestors. This original demotion of the language created a subordinate sociopolitical, economic, and biological status for the country's majority that had been relocated by slavery.
Today, Creole is spoken by everyone in the country. The upper class and educated people speak both French and Creole. Per the 1987 Constitution, both Creole and French are official languages of Haiti. However, French is still the main language taught in schools and used in politics. With only 2-5% speaking the language of the politics, Creole speakers are politically disenfranchised. Haitian Creole and French are mutually unintelligible, so the vast majority of citizens cannot communicate with leaders in the language of their choice.
This disenfranchisement is further aggravated by the lack of a systematic educational system. Literacy programs failed in the 1980s, and French is still the language being used to instruct students. Haitian linguist, Yves Dejean, recalls warnings posted in the principal's office forbidding the use of Creole. In the 1970s, only one percent of the children who entered kindergarten stayed on track to obtain state certificate at the end of the sixth grade. Even after the literacy programs of the 1980s, 90% of the teachers ten years after the decree were still not able to fully integrate the Creole language into the education system. The language handicap makes education and furthermore, political enfranchisement almost impossible.
- The Economist Intelligence Unit (8 January 2019). "Democracy Index 2019". Economist Intelligence Unit. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
- "French, U.S. troops fan out from Haiti's capital". 19 March 2004. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
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- "Only 6% voted for Jovenel Moïse according to Exit Poll". Haitian Sentinel. Miami. 2015-11-19. Retrieved 2015-12-03.
- "Calls for transparency joined by 30 more presidential candidates". Haitian Sentinel. 2015-12-01. Retrieved 2015-12-03.
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- Hebblethwaite, Benjamin. "French and Underdevelopment, Haitian Creole and Development: Educational Language Policy Problems and Solutions in Haiti," Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 27(2012)255-302.
- Dejean, Yves. "An Overview of the Language Situation in Haiti," International Journal of Sociology of Language 102(2009): 73-83.