The National Assembly of People’s Power, or what foreign journalists simplified as the Cuban Parliament, consists of some 612 members. None of them performed any action to achieve their seat; all were taken by surprise when Nominating Committee announced that their name would be on the list of proposed members. Voters who voted for them either were forced to choose between one or the other, but all were approved in a block of 612 candidates. One for each existing post.
About half of these candidates were selected by the Nominating Committee from a list of nearly 15,000 district delegates around the country. The rest were “taken” by this Committee from among other personalities who, without being grassroots delegates, stood out for their work in the arts, science or sports, or for accumulating certain historical, political or military merits.
The Parliament is a representative range of our society, except in the field of political opinions
The Committee is careful to maintain an appropriate ratio between young and old; men and women; whites, blacks and mestizos; workers, peasants and intellectuals; and, of course, making sure the fifteen provinces are equally represented. No one can deny that the Parliament is a representative range of our society, at least from the point of view of age, gender, race, occupation and regional profile.
Where there is no plurality is in the field of political opinions. In fact, the voters don’t know the candidates’ views and only assume they must be “revolutionary” because the Committee selected them.
How will this diversity be interpreted when the new Electoral Law that has been announced is enacted?
First, the Nominating Committee should be eliminated. Article 68 of the electoral law provides that:
The Nominating Committees is made up of representatives from the Cuban Workers Center, the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Federation of Cuban Woman, the National Association of Small Farmers, the University Students Federation, and the Secondary Students Federation, appointed by the respective national, provincial and municipal boards, at the request of the National, Provincial and Municipal Electoral Commissions.
It is this composition of the Commission that allows the official propagandists to claim that it is not the Communist Party that proposes the candidates. What is not explained is that most of the top leaders of these organizations (which appoint their representatives to the Commission) are at least members of the Central Committee of the Party and that in the statutes of each of these entities is a clause which requires fidelity to the highest political body.
In voting, unanimity is the rule; votes against are the few exceptions
In the nearly 40 years of the National Assembly of People’s Power’s existence there is no trace of a single adverse vote on a law or a measure proposed by the government, nor has anyone registered any significant argument; is not possible to identify trends, wings, sectors or anything of that kind. In voting, unanimity is the rule; votes against, the few exceptions.
If the new Law modifies this detail, among others, to enter Parliament you should have to have something of your own to propose; if there came to be a deputy who gets to this place for people who think alike and who raised his or her voice or hand in favor of a new idea, the other roosters in this pen would crow…
In a nation where almost everyone has their own point of view but where few have the courage to express it publicly, especially if it deviates from the official line; in a nation that has spent 63 years without civil liberties, where there are at least three generations domesticated under tight ideological tutelage; in a nation like that there will be no democratic experience of a real Parliament just because a new electoral law is enacted.
However, in this house of cards, the slightest movement of a deck can have unexpected consequences in a country where so many people dream of profound changes.