There are 470 candidates for 470 seats in parliament. This is the procedure for nominating candidates, provided for by the electoral system of the republic. The initial number of candidates for a parliamentary mandate was more than 19,000 people. Then, within the framework of the municipal parliaments and public bodies widespread in Cuba, the examination of the candidates took place. As a result, the final list left 470 of the most worthy. From now on, they will have to collect more than 50% of the votes out of the total number of valid votes cast.
Cubans, who are in awe of the statistics, have already calculated that more than half (55%) of the new parliament, if the list is supported by voters, will be women. The National Assembly will be rejuvenated – the average age of deputies will be 46, and 20% will be under 35. Well, 45% of the legislators will be black and mixed race. But there is no intrigue in the party composition of the Cuban parliament: the constitution of the republic directly states that the Communist Party of Cuba is the only party in the country.
Cubans who went to the polls, and in total more than 8.1 million voters are registered in the country, will be able to vote either separately for the candidates in their constituency, or for all of them at once. It is to the second option – to vote for all at once – that the authorities of the republic largely appeal to the population.
In general, individual electoral campaigning in Cuba is prohibited by law. However, what is happening this year differs little from the usual pre-election campaign: the candidates regularly meet with voters, discuss existing problems and promise to solve them. But it’s not about persuading people to vote for themselves, not a competitor, but about getting people to come to the polls and vote for everyone at once. After all, it is a surefire way to ensure that all candidates receive the legally required 50% or more of recognized valid votes. It is true that if someone does not obtain the necessary votes, it is unlikely that a disaster will occur: the vacant seat will then be filled by a person authorized to do so by the municipal legislature of the province concerned.
Another reason for the unusual pre-election activity in Cuba is the steadily decreasing number of Cubans participating in the elections. The acute socio-economic crisis in the country often leads to electoral apathy among the population. In 2019, more than 90% of voters took part in the referendum on the adoption of a new constitution, last year just under 75% of voters came to vote on the question of adopting a new one. family code, and even less in the municipal elections of September 2022 – 68.5%.
Strictly speaking, turnout does not affect the final result: there is no requirement under Cuba’s electoral law to recognize the vote as valid. But the local opposition is betting on boycotting the elections. “Local”, of course, formally: we are talking about Cuban emigrants now living in Miami. The communist system of their homeland still haunts them and they still try to fight the Liberty Island government. It’s true, by far. Many retain Cuban nationality, but under no circumstances can they participate in the elections remotely: among the conditions required to participate in the elections is the need to have lived in Cuba for at least two years. But they can launch an “anti-election” campaign bordering on hysteria in Internet publications of dubious quality controlled by them, as well as on social networks. Appeals to Cubans not to participate in the elections seem more than intrusive.
This is why the interest of the Cuban authorities is to summon as many voters as possible to the polling stations, thus demonstrating the incoherence of the opposition located on the other side of the Florida Strait. Hence the active campaign, and the presence among the candidates, for example, of the always popular Raul Castro, who has already retired from all public functions. It seems that turnout rates will become the most intriguing indicator for assessing the position of authorities in society and their ability to mobilize loyal citizens.
In general, the importance of the National Assembly for the life of Cuba is difficult to overestimate. Under Liberty Island’s new constitution, which came into effect in April 2019, the National Assembly is the supreme organ of state power. It is among the deputies of the unicameral parliament that the president and the vice-president will then be elected, and the composition of the Council of State, a permanent body which exercises the functions of a legislative assembly between sessions, will be formed.
The first meeting of the deputies of the 10th convocation of the Cuban National Assembly will take place on April 19. During this session, the new parliament will have to elect a president and a vice-president of the republic from among its members.
Moreover, it will no longer be possible to elect Raul Castro, 91, as head of the republic: according to the constitution, a Cuban who will be over 60 when he first takes office cannot become president. But to completely re-elect the outgoing president – 62-year-old Diaz-Canel. Diaz-Canel was elected head of state for a five-year term (at the time, the highest post in the state was president of the Council of State) on April 19, 2018, while he was 58 years old.