Monday, February 4, 2013

No-drama elections (Updated)

Cuba held its parliamentary elections yesterday, no suspense as usual, the only surprise being that Fidel Castro went to a polling place in Havana to vote.  (See Granma’s front page.)  Raul went to eastern Cuba, voted in Mayari Arriba in Santiago province, and paid his respects to comrades who died in the anti-Batista struggle and to his wife Vilma, his “life-long love.”  The only next-generation official covered in Granma is Miguel Diaz-Canel, a vice president of the Council of Ministers who, along with the foreign minister, was at Raul Castro’s side at the recent summit in Santiago.

Cuban media played up the high rate of participation, where 86 percent of eligible voters had gone to the polls by 5:00 p.m., one hour before polls closed. 

Juventud Rebelde pointed out that candidates for provincial and national legislatures included “artists, campesinos, workers, housewives, and small entrepreneurs.”  Fifty-two candidates were under age 35, and 48 percent between 38 and 50 years old.

Whether this will make a difference in a legislature known for unanimity remains to be seen. 

When the new National Assembly is seated later this month, it will elect from among its members the 31-member Council of State and its officers.  That will surely include the re-election of Raul Castro as President.  If there’s any drama in this election, it will be in what follows: the election the Vice Presidents, who constitute the line of succession to the presidency.  One Luis Morlote, quoted in the Juventud Rebelde article, said that the young candidates are a sign of “indispensable generational continuity to strengthen our revolutionary process.”  We’ll see if that “strengthening” includes the naming of a new first vice president to replace the incumbent, age 82.

Update: Cuba’s electoral authorities reported that nearly 90 percent of eligible voters cast ballots; 94 percent of ballots were valid and 5.83 percent invalid (4.63 percent blank, and 1.2 percent “annulled”).  In 2008, 4.76 percent were invalid, La Jornada reports.

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