The Cubans voted on Sunday to renew the parliament for five years, in elections in which 470 candidates for deputies for 470 seats were presented, in which all obtained the necessary votes to be elected.
Between denunciations of irregularities by dissident sectors and “irregular” elections by at least three international organizations, the day in Cuba passed without incident, according to the president of the National Electoral Council (CEN), Alina Balseiro.
Likewise, the CEN confirmed this Monday that in the elections of the eve registered the lowest turnout in a parliamentary election since the revolution came to power in 1959.
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The 23,648 polling stations closed at 7:00 pm local time, after delaying the closing time by one hourreported the National Electoral Council.
A repression was unleashed against activists and observers who tried to monitor the electoral process and participate in the scrutiny
Among the 470 candidates for the National Assembly of Popular Power there are 263 women and 207 men, the majority members of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), the only legal one on the island.
In Cuba, a country with 11.1 million inhabitants, opposition parties are prohibited and voting is not compulsory.
Voters found two possibilities on the ballot: the name of each candidate from their district or the “vote for all” option, which implies supporting the 470.
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Abstentionism in Cuba, a rising trend
The preliminary results “validate the election of the 470 proposed candidates” for the National Assembly of People’s Power, confirmed in a conference the president of the state CEN, Alina Balseiro.
Abstentionism was the only thing at stake in this electionmainly for the interest of the dissidence.
Official participation figures do not match actual behavior
of the electorate
The 75.92% participation in this Sunday’s event is almost 10 percentage points lower to that of the parliamentarians of 2018, a process that renewed the Parliament that elected the current president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, who succeeded Raúl Castro (2008-2018).
Despite being a very high percentage in any other country in the Western Hemisphere, the figure is considerably far from the historical average before 2018, above 90%.
The result of the instance was questioned by the oppositionconsidered illegal in the country, but represents a strong rise compared to the 68.5% participation registered in the municipal elections of November 2022.
The trend of electoral abstention in Cuba had been taking place for years and it was reflected in the results of the referendum on the Family Code with a 74.12% participation in September 2022, a lower vote than the plebiscite to reform the Constitution (90.15%), in September 2022. 2019.
Total, 6.22% of the ballots were blank and 3.50% were canceledaccording to preliminary data from the SEN.
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In addition, he pointed out that the 470 candidates -for 470 seats, the vast majority of whom are members of the Communist Party or similar organizations- they managed to overcome the threshold of 50% of the votes, for which they were elected.
NGOs denounce ‘anomalies’ in the elections
The president of the SEN remarked that the process was carried out without notable incidents and legally. This is far from what it was denounced by NGO and dissidence inside and outside the island.
After Sunday’s day, three independent electoral observation NGOs -There were no international observers in Cuba- They described the elections as the “most irregular” in the country since 1976 and considered that the “will” of the electorate was not met.
In a joint statement, Electoral Rights Observers, the Cuban Electoral Defense Commission and Citizen Observers of Electoral Processes denounced “anomalies” in the electoral law, use of “coercion” tactics and “repression” actions against activists and independent observers.
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Today the legislative elections are held in Cuba. More than 8 million Cubans will choose by popular vote 470 deputies, members or not of the Communist Party of Cuba. A vote where elections are not a private business, where politics is not a public theater. pic.twitter.com/nvK7U5pqF6
— Aníbal Garzón 🌎 (@AnibalGarzon) March 26, 2023
The three associations, which claim to have experience in electoral observation inside and outside Cuba, pointed out that these practices contribute to “the citizen feeling, which is beginning to emerge, that the official turnout figures do not match the actual behavior of the electorate“.
They considered that the data advanced by the National Electoral Council (CEN) “do not seem to correspond to the rigorous independent observationwith the spontaneous testimonies of citizens and with the profusion of images, all indices in the direction of showing the low citizen participation in voting throughout the country”.
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“It broke out repression against activists and observers who intended to monitor the electoral process and participate in the scrutiny, as authorized and supported by the law,” said the statement, which spoke of detainees, house sieges, threats and even blows.
NGOs denounced the normalization of “form anomalies, in violation of the Electoral Law” such as electoral rolls not published on time, polling stations with no censuses in sight, polling stations where unregistered people voted, and places where all those registered were not allowed to vote.
INTERNATIONAL WRITINGWith information from agencies
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