From the Left



This Is What Passes for Elections in Cuba

Luis Martinez-Fernandez on

On Sunday Nov. 27, 5.7 million Cuban citizens exercised their constitutional right to vote, but a substantial percentage (31.5) of registered voters decided to stay home that day. This was in sharp contrast with previous elections' voter participation rates, which have historically hovered above 90%. In the recent past, however, we have seen a trend toward higher abstention rates (14% in the 2017 municipal elections) and (25% in September's "Family Code" referendum).

Despite government and state media spin -- President Miguel Diaz-Canel applauding the official voting rates and results as signs of social and political stability -- the fact that 2.6 million Cubans chose not to vote in these municipal elections signals massive and growing popular rejection of the regime and its political leaders. Moreover, approximately 11% of the ballots (627,000) were either left blank or spoiled. That over 5 million did cast ballots should not be read as their support for the communist regime.


While the Cuban state and its supporters around the world claim, with a straight face, that Cuba is a democratic nation and a model of participatory governance, they are anything but that.

What transpired last Sunday is the first part of a Byzantine, multistage electoral process that checks a few but certainly not the majority of boxes required by the commonly accepted definitions of democratic elections:

[x] One secret ballot for each registered voter.


[ ] Multipartidism or bipartidism.

[ ] Free and fair competition among different candidates who represent diverse ideas and policies.

[ ] Absence of candidate and voter intimidation.

[ ] Open public campaigns with candidates having access to the media.


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