The polling stations closed in Cuba this Sunday with a preliminary turnout of 70.34 percent in elections where other parties were banned except the Communist Party.
The result will make up the new National Assembly (unicameral parliament) that will work for the next five years, informed the National Electoral Council (CEN).
“From a basic part of 8,120,072 voters, 5 million 711,397 had voted up to 5:00 p.m., which represents 70.34 percent”, indicated the president of the CEN, Alina Balseiro, when offering an initial closing of the attendance at the polls.
The official pointed out that these results are 1.71 percent higher than those achieved in the referendum on the Family Code, held in September last year, and 6.49 percent higher than in the previous municipal elections, last November.
Balseiro said that as voting hours were extended by one hour, the preliminary general results would be offered later, and the final official figures would be made public later when the whole process of validation of the votes is concluded.
Nearly 23,400 polling stations closed at 19:00 local time (22:00 GMT), one hour later than scheduled, remaining open for twelve hours to elect from a closed list the 470 parliamentarians, who had to obtain more than 50 percent of the valid votes.
Half of these one-party candidates came from the municipal governments and are grassroots delegates (council members). At the same time, the rest are personalities with high public recognition proposed by unions and social organizations.
The electoral ballots allow choosing each candidate separately from the territory or voting for all of them. However, in the last weeks, the Government has insisted on a “united vote” to reaffirm the Cuban socialist system.
“With a united vote, we are defending the unity of the country and the socialist construction; we are also doing an act of dignity with (former presidents) Fidel and Raúl (Castro),” President Miguel Díaz-Canel told the press as he exercised his right to vote.
The 62-year-old president voted in Santa Clara, his hometown and capital of the central province of Villa Clara, some 270 kilometers east of Havana.
The head of state expressed confidence in the widespread participation in these elections. However, he admitted that “some may put the difficult economic situation ahead of the will to vote, but I do not think they are the most”.
“I have confidence in the people,” Diaz-Canel stressed.
The ruler asked the new National Assembly to get closer to the voters through a greater systematization of the meetings of parliamentarians with the population.
Díaz-Canel, also the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), assured that this is a path of improvement to be taken by the National Assembly, which, he said, has to restructure its work system in the relationship between deputies and the population.
Later, he qualified as “very important” for the country where young people continue to be trained. In this sense, he demanded to create spaces for them in the companies to assume technical and innovation tasks.
These elections constitute a second stage of the process, including the voting held last November to select the 12,427 delegates that integrated the local governments in the 168 municipalities of the country.
The new parliament will take office, as is traditional, on April 19, when the deputies will vote for the presidency of the country, headed by Díaz-Canel, who is expected to serve a new five-year term.
Former President Raúl Castro, about to turn 92 and Díaz-Canel’s predecessor, was also a candidate for deputy.
The new legislature will also elect, from among its members, the president, vice president, and secretary of the parliament, as well as the members of the Council of State.