The Haitian political system has historically displayed certain enduring features. The post-Duvalier transition, for example, was similar in some ways to previous crises of succession.
According to the Duvaliers, Haiti was a republic, wherein power passed smoothly from father to son in 1971. In reality, however, the country resembled a monarchy. This "dynastic republicanism" was merely a new variant of the traditional Haitian system of competition among personalist factions. The dynastic republicanism began when François Duvalier simply extended his term in office beyond its prescribed six years. As Duvalier was well aware, there was ample precedent in Haitian history for this move. Duvalier's immediate predecessors all tried to extend their prescribed terms in office. After extending his term, Duvalier declared himself president. Nine of Duvalier's predecessors had designated themselves chiefs-of-state for life. Duvalier then established the hereditary presidency. Haitian monarchs Henri (Henry) Christophe (1807-20) and Faustin Soulouque (1847-59) had attempted to establish hereditary succession more than a century earlier. In short, the primary goal of most Haitian leaders has been to maintain themselves in power for as long as possible.
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