The elections to renew the Cuban Parliament held on Sunday on the island did not throw surprises.
The 470 candidates for deputies proposed by an official electoral commission were elected without difficulty, including former president Raúl Castro, 91, and the current president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, 62, who may opt for a second term on the next 19 April, when the National Assembly is constituted, which must elect a new Government.
Abstention, once again, was the protagonist of these elections: one out of every four Cubans summoned to the polls did not go to vote, an upward trend that analysts interpret as a vote of punishment when the country is experiencing one of the most serious crises in his story.
More than 8,100,000 Cubans with the right to vote were summoned to these elections: 75.92% of the voters participated, ten points less than in the 2018 elections to renew the National Assembly, when 85.65% of the voters voted .
However, it is a small relief for the authorities, since in last year's municipal elections abstention reached 31.5%, a record figure in a country accustomed to unanimity during Fidel Castro's lifetime, when participation rates almost always exceeded 95%.
In the 2015 elections, with Raúl Castro as president, participation was 89%, but in the municipal elections held in November 2017, abstention rose to 14%.
In the referendum held in September 2022 to approve a new family code, 25% of Cubans with the right to vote did not go to the polls (and of the valid votes, 32% went against the position defended by government).
In any country in the world, these results would be displayed as a victory for the government, but in Cuba, where only the Communist Party exists and it is so difficult to gauge the social and political temperature, the growing detachment that this trend reflects is something to take into account. and difficult to read.
A child watches the street from one of the voting centers in Havana this Sunday. ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI (REUTERS)
It has long been clear that the times of seamless unanimity and massive votes in support of the government are over in Cuba.
And, also, that the social unrest caused by economic hardships and the lack of hope for the future has grown exponentially in recent years.
To this we must add that the number of Cubans, mostly young, who left their country in the last year and a half, is overwhelming.
It is estimated that in this period of time more than 320,000 entered the United States illegally through the Mexican border, to which must be added the tens of thousands who have emigrated to other countries and the thousands who have attempted to cross the Strait of Florida in fragile vessels, most of which were intercepted by US Coast Guard ships and deported to the island.
The Government feared that the abstention rate – to which the weak opposition forces had called – would be higher in these elections than in the municipal elections of November last year (31.5%).
For this reason, the authorities lived almost as a triumph that participation exceeded 75%, and they hastened to qualify the results as “a yes for Cuba, for the revolution and for socialism” and considered it a “success”.
“This Sunday was a day of celebration, of joy, of confirmation, of convictions.
And once again we had a revolutionary victory, a victory for our people," said the Cuban president on Twitter, recently arrived from the Ibero-American presidential summit in the Dominican Republic.
On Monday, exultant, he added on this social network: “Since yesterday we said it: we trust our people, who came out to defend the Revolution.
Despite the draconian measures of the United States, despite the fierce campaign and the calls for abstentionism, Cuba won”.
There was no doubt that the 470 candidates for deputies proposed by the electoral commission would be elected to cover the same number of seats.
To be elected, it was enough for them to obtain 50% of the valid votes, and so it was.
The electoral system is designed in such a way that it is practically impossible for the proposed candidates to be rejected, since for this, more than half of the voters would have to vote against them.
Of the 6,164.
Of the 876 Cubans who exercised their right to vote in Sunday's elections, 6.22% voted blank and 3.50% of the ballots were annulled.
In other words, between abstention, null and blank votes, one in three Cubans did not follow the official slogan, a percentage that given the unique Cuban situation is not negligible and that, analysts say, including some close to the theses official, the Government should take into account in any future political equation.
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