Cuba holds national elections on Sunday, but there are only 470 candidates running for the 470 seats in the National Assembly of People’s Power, with no opposition challengers and no campaigning.
Voters essentially will do no more than endorse the nominated slate of candidates. The polling held every five years technically is nonpartisan, but falls under the indirect control of the country’s true power under the constitution, the ruling Communist Party.
Half of the candidates come from municipal assemblies chosen in local elections last November. The other half are nominated by groups representing broad swaths of society — such as a women’s group and workers unions. All are vetted by election committees with ties to the party.
Cuba’s establishment says the system is inclusive and builds unity, while steering clear of the divisiveness of party politics or any ill effects of big-money donors. The outcome may be a foregone conclusion, but one indicator that will be closely watched is how many voters abstain from the process.
That number has been growing over the past decade, which some critics point to as an erosion of confidence in Cuba’s one-party system as the country suffers a deep economic crisis.
The election comes at a time when Cuba is facing its biggest population exodus since the revolution, with an estimated 300,000 Cubans leaving for the United States last year amid rampant inflation, hunger and blackouts.
The new National Assembly is expected to convene April 19, when it will vote on the executive leadership, with current President Miguel Díaz-Canel expected to be re-elected.