Despite the difficulties brought on by the forceful Hurricane Irma, Cuba has begun the lengthy process of electing the delegates who will form the new administrative bodies of the government and the state, from municipal governments through to the nation’s highest governing bodies: the National Assembly and the State Council.
This process will begin to create functional institutional changes within the country and in doing so will gradually attract more and more international attention.
In the world at large, many are unaware and think that there is no democracy in Cuba, yet here on this Caribbean island the first phase of the general election process is in motion. It is a process that according to many should see a new generation of Cubans entering government. By all accounts the incumbent President Raúl Castro is decided in his intention to step down from office, as he has been overtly implying in announcements for several years.
Interest in the process will increase as the days go by, as the public watches to see whether the Cuban head of state will indeed hand over the presidency and if so who will take his place at the helm of the Cuban state and government.
At the moment the first steps are underway in Cuba’s unique election system to select the bodies that make up the basic foundations of the island’s system of government: the Municipal Assemblies of the People’s Power, or local governments. After the State Council called elections last June, logistical and organizational preparations began with the creation of Electoral Commissions at national and municipal levels.
Now in September the population will nominate the candidates who will stand to represent them, if elected, at municipal level, the most local level of government. These candidates are nominated by the citizens themselves, in person, at open public meetings where voting takes place by a show of hands among those attending.
Known as Delegados del Poder Popular (People’s Power Delegates) 12,515 of these representatives will be elected to office. There is no political campaigning. Candidates are simply nominated by their neighbours and their biographies are then posted visibly in public places. Those elected will hold office for two years.
It is useful to clarify here that the Cuban general election process is entirely funded from the state budget, so candidates receive no financial contributions from any person or organization.
By law such actions, if proven, constitute a crime committed by all those involved.
Up to eight candidates can stand, and each electoral district elects one. These delegates then form the Municipal Assembly, which has a subordinate administrative body known as the Administrative Council.