By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Cubans will head to the polls Sunday to elect the new National Assembly, the country’s highest law-making body.
In addition to fulfilling legislative functions during a five-year term, the Assembly will nominate a presidential candidate who will be elected in a vote among lawmakers.
Half of the candidates for the Assembly are from municipal assemblies and the other half were chosen by selection committees such as trade unions and student organizations.
Candidates must receive more than 50% of the vote in their district to earn a seat in the National Assembly. If one does not obtain the votes, the Assembly may appoint someone or allow the municipal commissions to do it. There is no campaigning allowed.
Human rights organizations have criticized the election process on the island for preventing the opposition from participating. There are 470 candidates running for the 470 seats but no opposition candidates are in the electoral race.
Unlike multiparty political systems, most of the candidates for the Cuban parliament are members of the Communist Party of Cuba.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel, the first president to lead the country after Fidel and Raul Castrol, could be re-elected for five more years. Diaz-Canel is a candidate for the National Assembly.
Abstentionism has been a defining trait in recent elections, which could undermine the legitimacy of Cuba’s next government. Turnout for the November 2022 municipal elections fell below 70% for the first time.
The new legislators will have to govern amid an economic crisis caused by the coronavirus, food shortages, inflation and crippling US sanctions.
The US has imposed economic sanctions on Cuba since the early 1960s. Although the administration of Barack Obama began easing sanctions and normalizing relations with the island, Donald Trump reintroduced them and added new additional ones.
The Biden administration has announced the relaxing of certain measures.