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  • The next big election in Cuba will be that for Deputies to the National Assembly of People

    The next big election in Cuba will be that for Deputies to the National Assembly of People's Power, the island´s parliament. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 December 2017
The First Vice President, if and when formally nominated, will then be elected by the Deputies in the new National Assembly. 

Cubans are poring over the results of the November 26 elections held across the country. 

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There was the usual massive turnout to elect delegates to the Municipal Assemblies of People´s Power — and most of the candidates were elected, but not all.

Of a total estimated populace of some 11 million, the national poll saw 7.6 million of the total 8.8 million registered voters — or 85.9 percent — cast their ballots at 24,365 polling stations in 12,515 constituencies. 

A total of 11,415 candidates were elected, of which 35.4 percent were women and 14.3 percent were youth.

But since Cuba's election laws demand that a candidate must get over 50 percent of the votes to be elected, 1,100 constituencies will have to have a second ballot, as no candidate scored the legal pass mark.

In terms of the quality of the vote, 91.7 percent of the ballots cast were valid, while 4.12 percent were blank and 4.07 percent were spoilt.

The high voter turnout and higher percentage of valid votes cast exceeds most other countries worldwide, indicating that Cuban voters do have confidence in their unique election system.

Indeed, the election having taken place one day after the first anniversary of the death of Fidel Castro, many voters said they cast their ballots not only for their country, but also in his honor, as he, more than anyone else, ensured they devised a system rooted in their own national experience and not copied from or patterned on any other elsewhere.

For example, candidates present themselves based on their personal records in their communities and not on behalf of parties. Thus, not even the ruling Communist Party is allowed to field candidates — and many among those elected are not party members. Campaigning is also banned, so candidates cannot advertise themselves, or buy votes. 

Some 200,000 adult officials supervised the vote across the country, but the ballot boxes were all guarded by primary-school students too young to vote.

No date has yet been set for the second round of voting in the 1,100 constituencies, but when that final run-off takes place, the new delegates will join those already elected to the municipal assemblies on Nov. 26.

The next big election in Cuba will be that for Deputies to the National Assembly of People's Power — the island´s parliament — where they will serve as lawmakers for the next five years.

No date has been set either for that crucial election to the seats of national power. But when that's done, their first tasks will be addressing the many challenges brought by the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

They will also have to deal with the new and added economic difficulties created by the sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump and his reversal of the advances and blockage of the openings created by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

But perhaps the next National Assembly´s biggest task will be the selection of a successor to outgoing President Raul Castro, who will not be seeking another term after just over ten years in office.

The younger Castro succeeded his older brother as president in 2006 after Fidel resigned due to physical illness. But even before Fidel died last year, Raul indicated he would be standing aside to allow for selection of a new and younger leader.

The ruling Communist Party has not yet officially named a candidate to succeed Fidel and Raul, but if the norms of socialist succession are to be followed, one name is already on the cards – that of First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez.

Not much is known outside Cuba about Diaz-Canel, but he is the one who has been holding-up all the telltale signs of succession — including delivering major party speeches, increasingly being the main public communicator of crucial party and government decisions and delivering the eulogy at the recent funeral ceremony for veteran revolutionary Cabinet minister and party leadership member Armando Hart.

Hart died on Nov. 26 — the municipal Election Day — of respiratory failure. And while President Castro was present at the solemn ceremony, he stood among the mourners and only laid a wreath.

The First Vice President, if and when formally nominated, will then be elected by the Deputies in the new National Assembly. 


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