Cubans voted Sunday in local elections featuring two opposition candidates who could become the island’s first non-Communist elected officials in decades. Political dissidents Hildebrando Chaviano, a 65-year old lawyer and independent journalist, and Yuniel Lopez, a 26-year old computer scientist, have already made history by surviving the first round of balloting and making it to the final vote. Chaviano and Lopez would be the first officials elected from outside the Communist Party since Cuba’s electoral law was put in place under former president Fidel Castro in 1976. They are the only two non-Communist candidates among 30,000 people running for local office in Sunday’s elections.
Cuba: Cubans vote on new legislature; president, parliament chief to be picked later this month | The Washington Post
Millions of Cubans voted Sunday for parliamentary candidates in elections critics say are closed and offer no real competition, but that the government defends as grass-roots democracy. The elected unicameral legislature will convene Feb. 24 and pick a new parliament chief for the first time in two decades, with the body’s longtime leader, Ricardo Alarcon, not on the ballot. Voting began last October with municipal elections. Term limits do not exist in Cuba, but on various occasions Castro has proposed limiting public officials including the president to two consecutive periods in office. Government critics call Cuban elections perfunctory, noting that only the Communist Party is permitted on the island and only one approved candidate is on the ballot for each seat in parliament. Castro and his older brother Fidel, now retired, have headed up the government for five decades.
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s political career may go on for a while, at least symbolically, even though he no longer holds the country’s top political positions. He is still a member of the National Assembly and on Sunday was nominated for another term, despite not having attended any regular sessions during the current legislature and the fact that he is rarely seen or heard from anymore. Elections for a single slate of deputies for the single chamber legislature are held every five years, with the candidates nominated by municipal governments after selection by commissions. The election is scheduled for February 3, 2013.