I love this headline:
Castro Lauds Cuban Municipal Elections
I bet he does.
Under Cuba’s one-party system, city and provincial leaders, as well as representatives of the National Assembly, are elected by citizens on a local level. Anyone can be nominated to these posts, including non-members of the island’s ruling communist party – the only one recognized in Cuba’s constitution.
So, in theory, anyone can stand for election, and if they win they can then take part in choosing anyone as President.
Well, not quite.
Cuba consistently defends its system as democratic, but critics of Castro’s government argue that tight state control, a heavy police presence and neighborhood-watch groups that report on their neighbors prevent any real political freedom on the island.
It is easy to sneer, and I hereby sneer, at elections like this. But what also strikes me is that fraudulent though this system obviously is at the moment, it might eventually mutate into something genuine. To put it another way, window dressing can end up taking over the shop.
What if Castro dies – Castro will, I predict, eventually die – and there is no longer any widespread agreement about who it is proper to vote for, and who those voted for should themselves vote for when they choose Castro’s successor?
At least Castro now feels sufficiently pressured by the challenge of true democracy to feel the need to arrange his own fraudulent version of it. And the experience of participating in this charade is quite likely to make at least some of those taking part in it wonder how it might feel to vote in a real election.