Congress limps to unremarkable finish

(posted Dec. 12, 6:45 p.m.) – Nicaragua’s listless National Assembly will drag itself across the 2011 finish line on Thursday after another hiss-worthy legislative performance this year.

With the exception of passing several social laws of dubious applicability, and a handful of rubber-stamp loan approvals, the feckless National Assembly did nothing this year to resolve the most pressing issue affecting Nicaragua’s governability: Replace the more than two dozen de facto magistrates, judges and other institutional heads who continue to occupy their posts under a questionable presidential decree from 2010 that extended everyone’s terms indefinitely.

Unable to agree on candidates to fill those posts last year, lawmakers pushed off the task until this year. But then they apparently forgot about it.

Though the Sandinistas had the plurality in the National Assembly, they didn’t have a majority, which prevented them from dictating terms and getting their candidates approved without debate. The opposition, meanwhile, was too focused on carping, bickering and name-calling to do much else.

The situation essentially converted the National Assembly into a lame duck back in 2010, if not before. The fowl was fattened all year and eventually plucked in time for the holidays, when the Sandinistas won their legislative super majority in the Nov. 6 elections.

 As expected, the 2012 budget got pushed off until next year, when Sandinista lawmakers will be able to approve it unilaterally.

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