Sunday, October 21, 2007

Covering The Cuban Municipal Elections

Cuban municipal elections started today Sunday October 21 at 7AM. By the end of today Cubans will have elected 15,236 delegates for local municipal assemblies out of 37,258 candidates. By Cuban election rules candidates are forbidden from campaigning and candidates are only represented by a picture and resume. This is the first tier of the Cuban election process which is then followed by a vote cast by those elected local assembly men or women for the 609 seats of the National Assembly, after which the National Assembly elects a President, expected to be Raul Castro.

This year's elections are considered important because the Cuban government has asked for younger members of Cuban society to run as candidates and take ownership of Cuba's government. This latest move by the Cuban government is, not surprisingly, being met with skepticism by the United States which claims Cuba's system to be undemocratic. However, While Cuba's government only recognizes the Cuban Communist Party as the only legal political entity, non-communist party candidates, independents, are allowed to run for office and are often elected into municipal assembly posts.

The call for younger members of Cuban society to join the election process is a reflection of the advanced ages of many in the islands leadership circles. With Fidel Castro's health in question and with senior Communist Party members retiring due to their age, the government has asked for "new blood". In Cuba, elections are open to all citizens over the age of 16 years old. Seven million Cubans are expected to cast a ballot today, or roughly 85% of the eligible voting population.

Quick facts about the Cuban Democratic System:
  • 37,258 candidates of which 28% are women.
  • Voter turnout ranges from 80 to 90% turnout.
  • Cuban population is 11.4 million people.
  • Proportionally speaking 3 out of every 1000 Cubans are running for office this year.
Cuban elections in the news:
AFP - Castro Lauds Cuba's One-Party Elections
Reuters - Cuba holds first election without Castro
BBC News - Cuba set for municipal elections
Mathaba - Mass Participation in Cuba's elections
Diario Las Americas - Cuba's Electoral Farce
Press TV - Cuban's elect municipal councilors

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