Monday, January 21, 2008

Counting continues in Havana ...

I know, I know … you just won’t be able to get any sleep tonight worrying about the results of the Cuban parliamentary “elections”, will you?

Will the seriously ill but brave Fidel Castro get re-elected by a grateful electorate? What about his brother Raul? Will the voters in Santiago give the hard-working 75-year-old “provisional” president the big tick? And what about that lovable ideologue Felipe Perez Roque? Will he keep his job as Cuba’s number one diplomat?

Talk about suspense … and we will have to wait until Monday afternoon (Cuban time) to find out the results!

In the meantime, here are some selected paragraphs from an Associated Press story that may shed some light into the likely election results:

"Only one choice appeared for each post in districts across the country and there was no campaigning."

“Candidates lose if they do not get more than 50 percent of the vote, although National Assembly officials don't remember that happening since Cubans began voting for parliament in 1993.”

“Voters ... were strongly encouraged to check a single box supporting the full slate of candidates, although if they object to some candidates, they can mark individual boxes by names they support and leave others blank.”

“Many Cubans feel compelled to vote because failing to do so can draw unwanted attention from pro-government neighbourhood watch committees, whose support can be needed to get jobs, housing or other official approvals.”

Still,don’t be fooled by all those unhelpful, negative remarks.

According to the Cuban vice-president, the ever-loyal Carlos Lage, elections on the island are the pinnacle of democracy, despite all the "enemy propaganda".

"Looking at the United States, it seems more like a popularity contest then elections," Lage told reporters. "Our elections are elections without politics, without fraud, without money or propaganda campaigns - elections that are based on merit."

Stay tuned.


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