Today, Cubans will queue up at the polls to elect 612 pre-decided candidates to the National Assembly of People’s Power ahead of the April 19 presidential elections. For the first time in nearly sixty years, Cubans will be led by a non-Castro, as current President Raúl Castro has declined to seek another term. First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel is expected to take over for Castro.
This historic election will not be a dramatic turnover of power from the Cuban Communist Party — the only party on the ballot — nor the Castros, as Raúl and two of his children will remain in powerful roles of party leadership. Furthermore, opposition movements, such as Otro18, that initially put forth 160 municipal candidates for direct elections were blocked from running.
Amidst uneasy relations with US, a slowly privatising economy parched for foreign investment and increasing inequality, Cuba’s new president may be met with intensifying reform demands from younger Cubans as the revolutionary generation fades. However, expect Cubans’ challenge to the government to be outweighed by financial insecurity and intensified repressive measures.
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Bibi contributes to our analysis of European affairs for The Daily Brief. She also serves as a copy editor for the publication.