Protesters have streamed into the capital’s streets in recent weeks in sometimes violent rallies to back opposition demands for an independent recount of the first round of Haiti’s presidential vote and immediate changes to an electoral council. That fervor isn’t shared by many in this impoverished country, however, and analysts worry widespread voter apathy is threatening the latest attempt to shore up Haiti’s fragile democracy. The malaise during this year’s three-round electoral cycle is occurring while nearly all public offices are up for grabs. Food vendor Minouche Jean didn’t vote in the first round of the presidential election in late October and won’t cast a ballot in the runoff that is scheduled for Dec. 27. She has no interest in a process that seems to matter so little in her daily life.
“It’s a waste of my time to go stand in line for hours and get nothing in return,” she said while arranging small bags of rice and sugar on a wooden stand in a Port-au-Prince shantytown. “I have to make money.”
Campaigning for the Dec. 27 runoff is technically under way, but so far only one presidential candidate appears to be running. The first round’s No. 2 finisher, Jude Celestin, has alleged “massive fraud” in favor of the government-backed contender and his opposition alliance threatens to unravel the vote. The top finisher, Jovenel Moise of outgoing President Michel Martelly’s Tet Kale party, is campaigning and complains critics are not providing evidence to support accusations of vote-rigging.