Two front-runners— former first lady Mirlande Manigat and Jude Célestin, President René Préval’s handpicked successor—have emerged from a field of 19 in the upcoming presidential balloting, according to a poll released by Haiti’s business community. See excerpts from The Miami Herald report (with a link to the full article below):
Among voters with electoral cards, Manigat had 23.1 percent while Célestin, the former head of the government reconstruction agency, was second with 21.3 percent. But for likely voters, the two are closer: 23.2 percent for Manigat and 22.5 for Célestin, according to the poll. “The people who are for Célestin are more likely to go vote for him than the people who say they are for Manigat,” said Reginald Boulos, chairman of the Economic Forum of the Private Sector, the business group that sponsored the poll.
[. . .] The national poll of 6,000 Haitians had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.27 percent. It began Oct. 13, two days before the launch of the public campaign during which candidates are allowed to hold public rallies and run TV and radio ads. The final day of polling was Oct. 20.
This is the second poll released by the Forum, and the third done by the firm in recent weeks on Haiti’s presidential and legislative elections. The final poll will be released three days before the elections. It shows that both Manigat and Célestin—he at a higher rate—are the beneficiaries of an increasing number of previously undecided voters who are now making up their minds. Undecideds have dropped from 22.4 percent to 7 percent in the poll.
Still, many Haitians remain unexcited about the vote as demonstrated by the lukewarm atmosphere at many of the public rallies, including one last week by Préval’s INITE platform. To date, it has attracted the largest crowds with more than 20,000 mostly young voters coming to a park in Croix-des-Bouquets to hear candidates, including Célestin, a low-key technocrat who rarely speaks in public.
In a distant third is kompa music star Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly. Previously tied with industrialist Charles Henri Baker, he leads among voters in Port-au-Prince despite hundreds of thousands of dollars of INITE billboards and posters looming over the broken capital.
Still, it remains a two-person race between Manigat and Célestin. Last week, Manigat won the endorsement of a group of powerful and well-known Haitian senators with the network to win her some support in areas where she is weak.
[. . .] But observers say it also remains one where the dynamics can change as candidates appear at more speaking engagements, and alliances are formed. Also, there are potential spoilers and possible kingmakers, including Martelly and hip-hop star Wyclef Jean. Jean, who was banned from running by the electoral council, remains highly sought after by both camps and has yet to make up his mind.
For full article, see http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/27/1893682/mirlande-manigat-jude-celestin.html
Photo of Manigat from http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=81850
Photo of Célestin from http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=82182