Cubans head to polling booths
Campaign News | Wednesday, 16 January 2008
The first stage in Cuba’s electoral process took place last year in what marked the beginning of this year’s presidential election.
Elections will eventually decide who sits in the National Assembly, which in turn elects the president.
Municipal delegates put their names forward for election last September, and by mid-November 15,236 were elected. The turnout was impressive, with more than 96 per cent of those eligible to vote - Cubans aged 16 and over - exercising their right, which amounted to 8.2 million people.
At the municipal level, voters themselves - not the Communist Party of Cuba, which is excluded from the electoral process - nominate candidates for election, and secret ballots take place at staffed stations before the ballots are counted in public.
And in a blow to anti-Cuban groups who had run a campaign encouraging Cubans to cast blank ballots, election officials revealed that fewer than four per cent of voters in the municipal elections had done so.
The second stage of the electoral process started in December, as candidates from the municipal assemblies put themselves forward to the public for election to provincial assemblies and as deputies to the National Assembly.
After going to press, Cubans will vote for 1,201 provincial delegates and 614 deputies to the National Assembly. The newly elected assembly will then choose the Council of State, which President Fidel Castro has headed since the early 1960s.
He must be re-elected to the assembly if he is to remain president of the Council of State, and head Cuba's Government. Voting for the presidency will be held no later than March 5, 2008.
In December Fidel was nominated as a candidate for a seat in Cuba's National Assembly, a pre-condition if he were to be a candidate for the presidency.
The international media has speculated that he will rule himself out of the running for the nation’s top job after he said he didn’t want to “obstruct the rise of people much younger”. However, even if he were to stand, his election would remain dependant on the National Assembly’s vote.
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