By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban electoral system went through the motions on Sunday in voting for neighborhood delegates. There was a time when over 90% routinely took part, that is no longer the case.
The election authority said 68.58% did cast their ballots, noting that of those, 10.89% were either blank (5.22%) or annulled (5.67%). This left 61.1% of the 8,351,311 eligible voters tabulated for the delegates.
That figure would be considered a relatively high percentage for local elections in many countries but in Cuba, where voting is highly encouraged by the State monopoly media, at workplaces and from neighborhood defense committees, it was notably low.
Likewise, the electoral council’s figures are not considered reliable to many, due to the prohibition on independent national or international election observers.
One of the reasons of their being less interest is amid a national crisis of food and medicine shortages and months of rolling blackouts, the neighborhood delegates have absolutely no decision-making power or budget to carry out local initiatives. In fact, it’s hard-to-find people willing to take the unpopular volunteer job which amounts to being a complaint receiver, which nobody higher up listens to or always tells them there are no resources to resolve any problems.
Another factor is that campaigning is forbidden, considered a vice of the capitalist world. To assure victory for the status quo, candidates not approved by the Communist Party are nearly always kept from running. Likewise, the candidates are only allowed to post a one-page typed biography with a mug shot on a few buildings’ bulletin boards. They are virtually forbidden from voicing their opinions on government policies, programs or any other issues of concern to the constituency.
A second round of voting will take place on December 4th in the neighborhoods where no candidate received 50% of the votes cast.