In Cuba, The People Really Decide!

Democracy In Action As Candidate Nomination Process Begins

Susanna Lee

Cuba’s National Electoral Commission (CEN) has announced that more than 50,900 meetings to nominate candidates for the Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power will take place across the country September 3-29. Neighborhood gatherings will take place in the more than 14,500 precincts, into which the country has been divided for the coming elections. Some 8.5 million Cubans are eligible to participate.

Every one of these citizens, 16 years of age or older, can nominate a candidate from among his or her neighbors, or even someone in another area within the same precinct, if previously consulted.

This practice of nominating one’s neighbors, however, has not become widely adopted, despite the 14 elections for municipal delegates which have taken place in the country since 1976. (Matanzas has had more, since the People’s Power system was piloted there, beginning in 1974. Many other precincts have had additional special elections to fill vacancies.)

Electoral legislation and regulatory norms establish that at least two candidates, but no more than eight, may be nominated per precinct, to ensure options for voters, even when a single assembly is held. The reality is that in most cases two or three are nominated and very rarely seven or eight.

On this occasion, as before, many are hoping a greater number of meritorious and capable individuals will be nominated to represent the neighborhood in the highest body of municipal government, so that the option of evaluating the attitudes and aptitudes of various candidates facilitates the selection of the person best fit for the job. The more candidates nominated, the more options available, the better.

With this in mind, precinct commissions responsible for the organization of the October 21 vote carefully considered the locations proposed as sites for nominations meetings. Municipal electoral commissions must approve these.

To date, the number of precinct commissions proposing three to six nomination sites has increased, while fewer are proposing a single location.

These choices are based on CEN regulations indicating that one nominations meeting should be held in areas with up to 199 residents, with progressively greater expectations based on the number of residents, reaching a maximum of eight meetings to be held in locales with populations over 2,800. Nevertheless, in localities with special characteristics, meetings can be authorized to facilitate the participation of smaller voting populations. There are 20 precincts in the country with fewer than 100 residents and some 300 with less than 200.

The right, and responsibility, Cuban citizens have to nominate candidates for municipal assemblies is basic to Cuba’s democratic system, which more than 35 years ago became one in which there is no nomination by political parties.

In Cuba, from San Antonio to Maisí, even in the most remote areas, any Cuban can nominate and be nominated, elect and be elected, without any consideration beyond meeting legal requirements.

In other words, he or she does not need the support of any party. Citizens have the right to nominate, and will exercise their right to elect a delegate from among those they have nominated this coming October 21.

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