Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Revolution and Socialism Will Always Be Preserved

January 26, 2008

Elections in Cuba

The Revolution and Socialism Will Always Be Preserved

Official results of the January 20 elections are out. Work is now underway to draft the lists of candidates to head the national and provincial assemblies and the members of the Council of State.

By Maria Julia Mayoral

The results of the elections held January 20, after having been validated and verified, show that 8,231,365 Cubans turned out to vote, representing 96.89 percent of those registered. These results confirm the words by Fidel Castro that the people of Cuba will never give up their revolution, socialism or their weapons and unity.

The turnout at the polls was characterized mainly by the quality of the
voting: 7,839,358 (95.24 percent) were valid votes, and 91 percent
(7,125,752) were slate votes for National Assembly members and provincial delegates. The balance of the valid votes (713,606, or 9 percent) were selective votes, said Maria Esther Reus, president of the National Electoral Commission, speaking on the Round Table news-commentary program on Friday.

Reus, who is also the Minister of Justice, said that blank ballots numbered 306,791 or 3.73 percent and those spoiled were 85,216 or 1.04 percent.

The minister described the election of the 614 National Assembly members and 1,201 provincial delegates was a resounding success that showed the motivation of the people, the participatory nature of elections in Cuba, and the transparency and professionalism of the electoral authorities who counted on the support of numerous volunteers with the logistics.

She noted that, as demanded by current legislation, the official results are backed by a thorough review of the ballots, comparing them with the number of voters in the electoral registry.

She said the use of computers allowed for a complete reconciliation, not only nationally but also provincially, of the so-called Exceptional
Registration. Thanks to the use of computers it was possible to count with precision the number of those who made use of this facility (voting in a different polling station other than the one assigned) and to include theses voters on the lists of their assigned polling stations. This is progress in the level of precision in the final results, said Reus.

It was possible to update the voters lists during the elections by using software created by Cuban specialists. The software made it possible to add the exceptional voters to the registries as well as to remove the names of voter who had died.

Lazaro Barredo, Director of the Granma newspaper, told the Cuban TV program that the results of the elections were a clear manifestation of the total freedom of Cubans to vote, with voters who had left their ballots blank and others who had opted for the individual as opposed to the slate vote. Unity prevailed in a fully conscious act of awareness, pointed out Barredo, who also referred to his personal experiences as a candidate to the National Assembly and the visits that candidates paid to their constituencies.

Nowhere in the world, he stressed, there are parliaments and provincial assemblies with up to 50 percent of its members serving at city council members at the same time; there are even countries where this duality is prohibited by law. In Cuba's case, this condition is advantageous and is in line with the very nature of the People's Power system.


Maria Esther Reus explained that all sectors of society are represented in the 614 elected members of the National Assembly. Over 28 percent are workers, farmers, civil servants, or education and health personnel. She commented on the increase in female representation (265 women, for 43.16 percent) and racial representation (35.67 percent are Black or mixed). The average age is 49, and the educational level is a high 99.02 percent of mid-level to university education).

Among other distinctive characteristics of the Cuban parliament is that 56 percent of the newly-elected members were born after 1959 and the rate of first-time representatives is 63.22 percent, or 385 members.

Likewise, 40.8 percent of provincial delegates are women; 95.8 percent are university graduates and mid-level technicians, and the first-time representatives number 834, for a 69.44 percent.

Extensive Consultations

Alberto Marchante, member of the National Candidature Commission, said that the Provincial Candidature Commissions had interviewed 982 delegates as part of the consultation process with a view to drafting the candidate's lists for the election of the president and vice president of the People's Power bodies, which will take place on February 2 in the constituent provincial assemblies.

He said provincial delegates are asked to give their opinions regarding who they see as being more fit to occupy the leading posts in their assemblies. Such opinions are fundamental for the evaluation to be made by the candidature commissions.

Marchante pointed out that in relation to the National Candidature
Commission, consultations with the parliamentarians will begin next week so that a list of candidates is presented at the first session of the new National Assembly on February 24, when the president and the vice president and the secretary of the parliament will be elected - as will be the president, first vice president, five other vice presidents, the secretary, and the rest of the members of the Council of State.

He said the provincial assemblies and the national parliament will be presented with a list of candidates to the respective positions for their consideration. After the lists are approved, elections will be held, by secret and direct ballot.

Once the national and the provincial assemblies are constituted and
elections to their top positions are conducted, the 2007-2008 election
process in Cuba would have concluded, said National Electoral Commission President Maria Esther Reus.

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