Elections Cuba: High turnout signals a new political climate in Cuba | International

A polling station in Havana, during Sunday’s municipal assembly vote.Yander Zamora (EFE)

The unfettered consensus and overwhelming vote in favor of the government in the referendum is over in Cuba. The last municipal elections confirmed the upward trend in the island’s polls, which analysts describe as a punishment vote while the country lives. One of the most severe crises in its history. Last Sunday, 31.5% of Cubans did not turn out to vote in elections to elect 12,427 people’s power representatives (councilors), the highest percentage of non-voters in Cuban electoral history since the victory of the revolution.

in life Fidel Castro, The participation rate in the elections was always above 95%. In the 2015 election, when Raúl Castro was president, participation was 89%, but in the last municipal election in November 2017, it rose to 14%. In a referendum to ratify a new family code in September of this year, 25% of Cubans with the right to vote did not vote (and of the valid votes, 32% went against the government-protected position).

These results would be normal and show considerable support in any country in the world, but it is very difficult to gauge the social and political temperature in Cuba, where there is only a Communist Party. Growing detachment These data reflecting this trend are new and difficult to read.

This Sunday, 8.3 million people were invited to vote. Only 5.7 million. Of the valid votes, 5.22% were blank and 5.07% were canceled – meaning more than 500,000 people either cast a blank vote or canceled their ballot, sometimes writing slogans against the government. While most analysts note that a no-vote or null-and-white vote cannot automatically be interpreted as a message of doom for the government — or that not everyone who went to vote supported it — it is clear that the balance of power in Cuba has shifted. And the old monotheism was superseded by reality. With this precedent, they caution that government should open up real spaces for political participation in society.

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Dear President of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, In September, during a vote on a new family code, he acknowledged that there could be a “punishment vote” against the government for harsh living conditions on the island, and he believed the approach was “legitimate”. And one has to “get used to” controversial election results, he said.

On Sunday, Díaz-Canel encouraged people to exercise “their civic duty” when voting in the morning at a polling station in Havana. “You can’t ignore who is going to represent the people in all our processes,” he said, adding that the elections confirmed “Cuba maintains its political and social stability, regardless of the economic stranglehold they are trying to impose.” The people, disaffected, disillusioned and deprived, yearn for the social explosion desired by the imperialist government.

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This Monday, when announcing the survey data, the head of the National Electoral Council, Alina Balseiro, assured that the results “demonstrate” the Cuban people’s “confidence in their popular representatives and their revolution.” Balseiro reported that 11,502 delegates were elected on Sunday. The other 925 posts will undergo a second round on December 4 as none of them received more than 50% of the votes required by law.

With these municipal elections begins an electoral process that will continue with the renewal of parliament in 2023. Presidential election. Now elected councilors will form municipal governments and 50% of them will propose candidates to the national parliament. The other half will be proposed by a commission made up of government-affiliated community organizations. Parliament, in turn, proposes to consolidate candidacies for the Council of State and the presidency, establishing a maximum limit of two terms of five years.

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Sunday’s municipal elections and the ones that follow are a critical moment in Cuba, where you have to stand in line for everything. The power outage, which also affects water supply, can last up to 12 hours a day. Shortages are severe, suffocating inflation and salaries are inadequate, and added to this are shortages of medicines and deterioration of health services. Worst of all, there is no end to the deterioration of living conditions. In the past year, street protests have escalated and the island has faced an unprecedented exodus – some 250,000 Cubans have left for the United States since September 2021 -. The Cuban government blames Washington’s immigration crisis for its embargo policy and economic stranglehold. Now, the phenomenon of non-voting has exploded onto the political scene with an unprecedented force and predictability., Two years after the historic demonstration of 27-N, a group of youth and artists demonstrated at the gates of the Ministry of Culture in 2020 demanding freedom of expression and a dialogue with the authorities.

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Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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