HAVANA TIMES – Cuba today announced the regularly scheduled municipal elections in October, the first step in the electoral process that will conclude in February with the designation of Raul Castro’s successor in the presidency, reported dpa news.
The State Council started the electoral mechanism to elect the municipal representatives by October 22 to be followed by elections for the national deputies, who in turn elect the president and vice president of the country.
The date for the election of the national deputies that comprise the one chamber parliament was not specified in the short note published by the Cuban News Agency.
The term of office for municipal delegates is two and a half years while for the national legislators it is five years.
Despite the international criticism of the existence of a one-party system, the Cuban authorities maintain that its mechanism “is one of the most democratic in the world” because municipal delegates are elected from their neighbors and are non-partisan.
In the elections for national deputies, while it is not necessary to be a member of the Communist Party, they are the ones who organize and supervise the process through a National Electoral Commission that elaborates the final candidacies. There is always only one candidate for each seat.
In both the local and national elections, the politicians are not professionals and do not receive remuneration for their legislative task and remain in their jobs. The National Assembly only meets in regular sessions twice a year and only for two or three days each.
The result has been a parliament where all of the more than 600 deputies always approve the legislative proposals from the executive unanimously.
Raul Castro replaced Fidel Castro in an interim presidency in 2006, then was appointed by the National Assembly in 2008 and re-elected unanimously in 2013.
On several occasions, Raul Castro, 86, has stated that he will not repeat a third term and leave the post in February 2018, after two successive periods.
Castro will leave the presidency, but has already announced that he will remain the first secretary of the all-powerful Communist Party of Cuba, which constitutionally is the body that determines policies on the island.
The announcement of the call for the municipal elections comes the same week in which US president Donald Trump is expected to announce the outcome of the review he commissioned on relations with Cuba. He is expected to roll back some of the openings made by his predecessor Barack Obama.