Cuba holds municipal elections
According to official figures, 97.1% of Cubans turned out on July 9 to elect delegates to 169 municipal assemblies.
According to the official statistics, 7,568,548 Cubans cast ballots out of a total 7,795,623 registered voters. Voting is not compulsory in Cuba. Of the ballots cast, 327,359 (4.3%) were blank and 528,556 (7%) invalid.
There were 29,131 candidates for 14,229 positions; Cuban electoral law requires at least two candidates, and no more than eight, for each position. Campaigning is prohibited; candidates simply post their biographical statements around the neighbourhood and in front of polling places.
Candidates must win at least 50% of the votes to be elected. Run-off elections were necessary in only 326 districts, 2.3% of the total.
Municipal assemblies are responsible for supervising local government, including schools, health care, factories, stores, libraries, transportation, public works, recreational facilities, services in general and environmental protection. Cuba has universal suffrage for citizens who are at least 16 years old.
Cuban electoral law allows any citizen to run for office, but according to the National Electoral Commission, "More than 80% of the candidates are militants of the [Cuban Communist] Party or the Communist Youth".
The Communist Party and the Union of Communist Youth urged fellow Cubans to cast their votes as a rejection of US interference in Cuba's affairs, and specifically as a rejection of the Helms-Burton bill, proposed US legislation that would tighten the US embargo of Cuba.
"Helms-Burton has helped make people more conscientious in these elections", said Cuban President Fidel Castro. "It helped these elections."
[From Weekly News Update on the Americas, published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York.]