Cuba begins series of elections in transition from Castro rule

World Today

Cuba is beginning the process of choosing a successor for Raul Castro. He’s indicated he will step down as President in February. 

That will mark a major milestone for the island country since he and his brother have led the country for decades. The process begins with Cubans choosing candidates for local elections.

CGTN’s Michael Voss has details.

As night fell dozens of neighbors gathered in their street to choose who would be their candidate for the upcoming local elections. This form of grassroots democracy will be repeated throughout Cuba in the coming weeks.

‘We need someone young,’ a woman said, proposing one candidate. Another woman nominated someone older who had experience in doing the job. No word though from the candidates themselves, only the proposers can address the crowd.

This is the nearest that candidates come to soliciting votes. Campaigning is not allowed under Cuba’s electoral law and that goes for local, regional and national elections.

With a final show of hands, it was experience which won out over youth as they opted for a school teacher and communist party member who already sits on the municipal council.

“I will jointly work with my voters to solve our housing and sanitation problems and keep up the fight,” municipal election candidate Nereida Soto said.

When the municipal elections are held in October, the nearest Soto and other candidates get to campaigning is a single sheet of paper with their picture and a brief biography posted on walls near the voting booths.  It is the same for all elections in Cuba though the selection process changes.

For the National Assembly of People’s Power, candidates are chosen behind closed doors by commissions made up of government linked organizations. Of the 612 seats to fill in Cuba’s parliament, there is only one person on the ballot for each seat.

The new National Assembly will meet for the first time in February next year to approve a new President and his inner cabinet. Raul Castro has already announced he will step down. It will mark the end of almost 60 years with a Castro in charge, though he will stay on as head of the powerful Communist Party.