Guatemala’s next leader could be a comedian with no political experience. Sunday, the country’s voters are casting ballots to determine who will fill the presidential seat vacated by Otto Perez Molina, who was arrested on corruption charges Thursday after resigning Wednesday. Among the 14 presidential candidates is television personality Jimmy Morales.
Some recent polls have Morales, 46, leading the other candidates, according to the Wall Street Journal. Also doing well in surveys are businessman Manuel Baldizon and former first lady Sandra Torres. However, Morales’ performance in the polls is just one sign that the election is being considered a joke by many, with activists speaking out against the political process.
“People are trying to vote for the least worst candidate,” Maria Luisa Rosal, a Guatemalan citizen and social-justice activist, told ThinkProgress. “These candidates are not representative of the people. So even if the elections do go through, I think the vast majority of people will not recognize the results.”
Indeed, the rallying cry “En estas condiciones no queremos elecciones,” meaning “Under these conditions, we don’t want elections” in English, has been shouted on the streets of Guatemala and posted on social media since last month:
Renuncia ya carajo! EN ESTAS CONDICIONES NO QUEREMOS ELECCIONES! https://t.co/v7zSxeVSM5
— Juan Pablo Romero F. (@revolucionando) August 22, 2015
— EducaGuatemala (@EducaGuatemala) August 27, 2015
Guatemala’s general elections for president, vice president and a host of other national and local offices have spurred some violence this weekend. At least one person was killed and more than two dozen people arrested during a clash between two political parties at a rally Saturday.
While the elections are indeed still being held, the presidential race could be subject to a run-off election in the event no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote. If that’s the case, the country will hold the run-off between the top two candidates Oct. 25. That winner would take office in January 2016.
Activists have been encouraging voters to cast their ballots for nobody and wear black clothes to the polls, the Associated Press reported. Accordingly, as many as one-fifth of the ballots could be blank, the Wall Street Journal said.
In the past, average voter turnout has been about 58 percent of the eligible voters in Guatemala, according to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. The country has an estimated population of more than 15 million.
Some Guatemalans appear to be expressing unhappiness with the country's leadership Sunday, but others seem to be expressing regret over a government decree that dictates no alcohol can be sold on Election Day:
It's election day. Everything is shut, no alcohol is allowed to be sold and fireworks will be going off ALL night. _
— Jo Foster (@CountessClutz) September 6, 2015