CUBAN Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel has dismissed speculation that the island’s youth may be less well disposed to the revolutionary process than previous generations.
“When one sees young people gathering in solidarity in the name of the Cuban people, feeling so much for [revolutionary leader] Fidel [Castro], I’m convinced that we’ll see the youth and the Cuban people out defending the revolution at the polls,” he said prior to Sunday’s municipal elections.
More than half of the electorate had voted within four hours of the polls opening on Sunday morning.
Mr Diaz-Canel, who many people expect to replace President Raul Castro when he stands down in February, said that a high level of participation in the polls would deliver a message to the world.
“What message? Unity. Conviction. A message that our people don’t bow down, not to a hurricane and even less to external pressure and some people’s desire to see our system change,” he explained.
Cuba’s Electoral Commission president Alina Balseiro said that the elections were characterised by enthusiasm, tranquillity and large numbers of voters entering the polling stations.
While municipal elections are contested affairs, candidates are put forward by local voters as individuals rather than as political representatives.
They are chosen to appear on the ballot paper on the basis of statements made to local meetings, detailing their activity in the locality and the workplace.
A second round will be held on December 3 to settle contests where no candidate has received more than half of valid ballots cast.