Cuba Holds Municipal Elections

On April 19th Cuba held the first round of elections for representatives or delegates to its municipal assemblies (Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power), a sort of neighborhood council that oversees local matters like water, sewers, street repair and insect fumigation. The total vote was approximately 7,553,000, representing 88.3% of the total electorate. [1]

Eligible voters, under article 132 of the Cuban Constitution, are all Cuban men and women, 16 years of age and older, unless ruled ineligible in accordance with electoral law. Voting in Cuba is a right and a civic duty, but is not a legal obligation. Voting is secret and the public can witness the count under Cuban law.

Elected were 11,425 delegates to the municipal councils while 1,164 districts where no candidate received at least 50% of the vote will go to a second round of voting on April 26th. Of those elected, 34.87% are women and 14.95% are youth. Of the elected delegates, 59.24% are members of the Communist Party of Cuba, which shows that it is not obligatory to be a party member in order to be elected.

Of the 27,379 candidates competing for 12,589 positions, two were Cuban dissidents who failed to become the first openly declared political opponents to win election in Cuba since the 1959 revolution, each failing in races for Havana municipal assemblies. In response to these two candidacies, Cuban media and electoral officials published disparaging information about the two men, including in the official candidate biographies hung by the government around their electoral districts.

One of these dissident candidates, Hildebrando Chaviano, 65, a lawyer who writes for Diario de Cuba, a website fiercely critical of the government, said, “The vote was clean. The count was clean. The people don’t want change. They still want the revolution. I still consider this a success. People know who we are now.”

Mercedes López
Mercedes López

Mercedes López Acea, First Secretary of the Communist Party in Havana and member of its Political Bureau, as well as a Council of State Vice President, said, “Today we ratify and defend the socialism we are constructing.” She emphasized that the election safeguards the rights of Cubans and validates the country’s participative democracy. “Among those nominated are young people, women, workers in a variety of occupations. . . . . This is an opportunity for all of us together to make the homeland stronger, on the basis of what all Cuban men and women want.” She added that the updating of Cuba’s economic model will advance in accordance with the work and dedication all Cuban men and women put to the task, saying, “Difficulties exist and have been identified, now we must work to resolve them.”

Articles in Granma featured photographs of Cuban leaders voting: Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro and Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, the First Vice President and the reputed presidential successor to Raúl Castro.

Raúl Castro
Raúl Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Miguel Diaz
Miguel Diaz

 

 

 

 

The date of the election, April 19, was chosen because it is the date when Cuba defeated the U.S.-sponsored invasion at the Bay of Pigs.

This is this blogger’s first examination of a Cuban election. It is based almost exclusively on Cuban sources. Do those sources provide fair reporting of the election? Was it a fair election? Those are questions to ponder as the hoped-for U.S.-Cuban reconciliation goes forward.

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[1] This post is based upon Loforte, More than 7 million Cubans exercised their right to vote, Granma (April 20, 2015); Hernández, Raúl casts his vote, Granma, April 20, 2015); Loforte, Fidel exercises his right to vote, Granma (April 19, 2015); Election day in Cuba, Granma (April 19, 2015); Castellanos, Voting is a tribute to our history, Granma (April 19, 2015); Hernández, Elections during historic times, Granma (April 19, 2015); Reuters, Two Cubans Lose Bids to Become First Opponents Elected to Office, N.Y. Times (April 19, 2015); Assoc. Press, 2 Cuban Dissidents Up for Election in Unprecedented Vote, N.Y. times (April 18, 2015); Mendoza & Medina, The right to vote in the Cuban electoral rules (final) (+inforgraphic), Granma (April 16, 2015).

 

 

 

 

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dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

2 thoughts on “Cuba Holds Municipal Elections”

  1. Comment: More Details About Cuba’s Municipal Elections

    According to the CubaCentral Newsblast of April 24, 2015, which is published by the Center for Democracy in the Americas (https://cubacentral.wordpress.com), Cuba’s municipal elections are the only time when Cuban citizens can directly elect public officials. Quoting the BBC, “Municipal assemblies… nominate candidates for half the representatives on provincial assemblies. The provincial assemblies then nominate candidates for half the members of the National Assembly, which elects Cuba’s ruling Council of State, which in turn elects the president. The other half of the candidates at municipal and provincial level is selected by a government electoral commission, ensuring continued Communist Party control.”

    Candidates for these municipal positions are nominated by a show of hands in local meetings just weeks before the elections take place.

    Election campaigns are illegal in Cuba, where voters instead rely on official candidate biographies to make their decision. Quoting the AP, the government-edited official candidate biography for one of the two dissident candidates described him as a counter-revolutionary and mentioned that he had taken classes at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. The official biography for the other dissident candidate contained similar disparaging information.

    Voter turnout in the recent election was 88% (down 6% compared to 2012). Although voting in Cuba is not mandatory, voters know that if they do not show up, it is likely to count against them in various ways.

  2. Comment: Final Results of Cuba’s Municipal Election

    Cuba’s National Electoral Commission has issued its final report on the first round of the municipal election on April 19th. It stated that 11,424 delegates had been elected with voter turnout of 89.88%.

    The second round of the election was on April 26th in 1,166 constituencies in 149 municipalities due to no candidate’s having received at least 50% of the votes in the first round. More than 1.2 million citizens were eligible to vote in the second round, and an hour before the polls closed, 941,041 had cast their ballots.
    =================================================

    Validated the 11,424 delegates elected in the first round, Granma (April 24, 2015), http://www.granma.cu/cuba/2015-04-24/validados-los-11-424-delegados-electos-en-la-primera-vuelta; Lee, More than 1,100 districts hold second round vote, Granma (April 27, 2015), http://en.granma.cu/cuba/2015-04-27/more-than-1100-districts-hold-second-round-vote

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