Cuba gets lowest voter turnout within socialist history as Raúl Castro prepares to retire

Cuba is approaching a generational change in government amid challenging circumstances and a population less thinking about politics, according to preliminary returns through Sunday elections on the island that will showed a record 17. 1 percent from the voters did not participate.

The election also put Very first Vice President Miguel Dí az-Canel, apparent successor to Raú d Castro, under a spotlight as Castro made a low-key visit to Santiago de Cuba, where he’s rumored to be planning to live after this individual retires as promised in 04.

The legislative Nationwide Assembly of Peoples Power chosen on Sunday is scheduled in order to appoint the new president when it initial meets on April 19.

Official but preliminary numbers from Sunday’s vote also display that the government could not muster the particular uniformity of past elections. Actually it was the lowest voter turnout because the communist government implemented the electoral system in 1976.

Aside from the 17. 1 percent who failed to vote, nearly 20 percent failed to fill in the “ all candidates” box on the ballots, defying authorities and official media calls for the “ united” vote.

The National Electoral Commission (CEN) told a news conference Mon that 94. 42 percent from the votes cast were valid, in comparison to past elections when around 10 % of the votes were void or even blank.

Opposition active supporters and workers in the campaign Cubadecide had urged Cubans to void their ballots. Yet CEN officials said only 1. twenty six percent of the votes were voided and declared the elections “ a triumph” and “ the reaffirmation of the Cuban electoral program. ” Cubadecide is led by Rosa Marí a Paya, daughter from the late opposition leader Oswaldo Paya, who was killed in a dubious vehicle wreck in 2012.

CEN President Alina Balseiro Gutié rrez said the preliminary figures can change because more than 300, 500 voters were registered at the last second. Cuba has a population of about eleven. 2 million people, of which almost nine million are eligible to election.

Sunday’ s polls were for provincial councils as well as the 605 candidates for the 605 chairs on the national legislature. There were simply no contested seats. The candidates had been selected by the Candidates Commissions, composed of government officials and members associated with pro-government organizations.

The very first round of voting for nearby councils in November already hinted at the drop in turnout. First figures put it at 85. 94 percent, the lowest in four years. Authorities later raised the number to 89. 02 percent, a small increase over the 2015 elections.

Several officials who talked to the news media Sunday indicated the elections were different this year since more important questions are at play.

Dí az-Canel, 57, solidified his image as Castro’s most likely successor with a 10-minute chat with media after he voted Sunday by which he discussed the goals plus challenges facing the next president.


Cuba’s First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel (R) and his wife Lis Cuesta queue at a polling station within Santa Clara, Cuba, during a good election to ratify a new Nationwide Assembly, on March 11, 2018.


“ We are building a government-people relationship, ” he said. “ The government wish electing today will be a government which will come from the people. The people are going to take part in the decisions taken by this authorities … and the people also can revoke anyone who does not carry out their duties. ”

Dí az-Canel added that the next government will certainly focus on solving Cuba’s problems, plus listed the many challenges facing the particular generational transfer of power.

“ We are defending the revolution that is still under strike, amid a complicated world and local situation … and the updating of our own economic model, ” he stated. The update has not gone in addition to expected “ because it is more complex compared to we thought. ”

Dí az-Canel also took the time to pay for tribute to Raú l plus Fidel Castro and the other alleged “ historic” leaders of the Cuban revolution.

The selection, he said, should be seen as a dedication “ to the historical generation … that forged the revolution, and it is a tribute to Fidel. In my opinion it’s also an endorsement of Raú l, our president, who’s the main one leading the updating. ”

Dí az-Canel was joined up with by his wife, Liz Cuesta Peraza, when they voted in the main city of Santa Clara — uncommon for revolutionary Cuba, where partners are seldom seen in official features.

Cuesta is movie director of academic services at the Paradiso Agency of the Culture Ministry.

Castro voted early Weekend in Segundo Frente, a tremendous mountain municipality near the eastern city of Santiago that includes the mausoleum where their wife Vilma Espí n is usually buried. He is expected to be smothered with her. Castro later performe across the country the municipality and attended the children’s theater performance but produced no consequential statements.


TELEVISION grab taken form Cuban Tv on March 11, 2018, displaying Cuban leader Raú l Castro (L) casting his vote in a polling station in Santiago sobre Cuba Province during an political election to ratify a new National Set up.

AFP / Getty Images / HO

Castro is reportedly planning a house in Santiago for right after he leaves the presidency, even though he is expected to continue to lead the particular Cuban Communist Party, the country’ s only legal party. The home is in the Raja Yoga community, according to opposition activist José Daniel Ferrer, and is surrounded by safety agents whenever Castro visits the town.

José Ramó and Machado Ventura, second secretary from the Communist Party and vice chief executive of the government, appeared to confirm Weekend that he would join Castro within retirement. Machado Ventura and 2 other historic leaders of the trend, Ramiro Valdé s and Guillermo Garcí a, are expected to comply with term and age limits suggested by Castro.

“ We are practically already in that long term transition that was talked about, although we’ve been in transition since January one of 1959. Now the alter is generational, ” Machado Ventura told journalists when he the very best in the eastern city of Guantá namo.

Opposition activists plus independent journalists complained about some other aspects of the elections.

Paya complained that some of the Cubadecide active supporters and workers who wanted to monitor the election counts were detained by law enforcement.

“ The Castro regime was unable to deter Cubadecide’s monitoring of polling places, regardless of arresting, harrassing, or obstructing a large number of observers and activists in numerous towns, ” the organization said in a declaration. “ These actions by the program clearly show that in practice the particular voting process is not transparent, totally free, nor fair. ”

The digital news site 14ymedio, run by independent journalist Yoani Sá nchez, noted that a lot more than 95 percent of the national congress elected Sunday had something in accordance: they were members of the CCP or maybe the Young Communists Union.