Saturday, February 28, 2015

New Electoral Law - New Wine in Old Wineskins?

New Electoral Law: New Wine in Old Wineskins? / Miriam Celaya
Posted on February 28, 2015

After the Tenth Assembly of the Central Committee (CC) of the Communist
Party of Cuba (PCC) the news about the next "enactment of a new
electoral law; and the subsequent holding of general elections" has
begun to circulate in the official media. Such an important announcement
in a country where, for more than 60 years ago no general election has
taken place, is mentioned almost tangentially, just nine words in an
informational note on the above Assembly, whose "focal point" had to do
with issues related to the preparations for the celebration of the April
2016 Sixth Congress of the single party.

So this is how the casual style of the announcement turns out so very
misleading, downplaying a code whose nature would be essential in any
minimally democratic society.

It is unknown what motivates this renewal of the law in a country whose
government, until recently, boasted of having the most fair, transparent
and participatory electoral process in the world, able to summon an
overwhelming majority of voters to the polls. The case provokes many
questions, some very basic: Why change a law that is supposedly a
paradigm of democracy even for the most civilized nations on the planet?
Why does the proposal arise from the central committee and not from the
higher authorities of the People's Power, as might be expected? What
reason is there for the urgency in enacting a new Electoral Law?

Once again, we only have speculation in the face of official secrecy and
conspiracy. In fact, this time they have not announced the completion of
an extensive process of "popular consultation", though it was conducted
– at least in a formal manner — for several months in 2013, before the
creation of the new Work Code currently in effect. The time span between
the April 2015 "partial elections" and the enactment of the new
Electoral Law was not clearly established either, though judging from
the official information that was disclosed we can assume it will be brief.

In principle, the announcement has accomplished the government's
purpose: to not awaken dangerous expectations among Cubans, especially
after the wave of enthusiasm that seized many with the December 17th
announcement about the restoration of relations between Cuba and the U.S.

In that vein, subsequent statements by the General-President during the
last meeting of CELAC cooled the wildest fires, and, at the same time,
they have widened the gap between the Government and citizens. No doubt
that the olive green tower has proven that the hope for effective
changes for Cubans focuses more in the future steps of the "enemy"
government than in the "actualization of the model" endorsed by mediocre
Raulista reforms. The Revolution has become a succession of failures,
and today the old Sierra Maestra combatants and their side troops sense
that the smallest of openings could end in a loss of control.

It is fair to say that the fears of those in power are well founded.
Wouldn't it be right to expect that the multiparty system requirements
or, at least, a strong controversy about the one-party system would
emerge from an extensive debate by Cuban society? Are we not in a
favorable scenario for claiming genuine democratic participation and
transparent general elections to replace the electoral farce practiced
for the past 40 years? Obviously, the elderly leaders will not want to
take too many risks.

For now, it seems impossible to imagine what "new" democratic clauses
the same dictatorship that has dominated life and property for 56 years
has in store for us. In any case, the sacred scriptures say that you
cannot pour new wine into old wineskins.

Everything indicates that the new electoral law will yet another plot of
the power and its claque, just a hasty move to bolster up the makeup
that minimally covers the dictatorial nature of the regime, and to
silence the scruples and demands of the nations gathered at the Americas
Summit this fast approaching April. Presumably, the olive green cohort –
who might do away with uniforms and decorations and dress impeccably in
civil garb for the occasion — will brag about the partial election
results and offer the new electoral code as irrefutable proof of his
willingness to change and his democratic calling. If it weren't so
twisted, such a pathetic pantomime would be laughable.

However, we could be facing a dangerous move here that would entail a
high cost for the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people. Civic
orphan-hood and generalized apathy are the best cards the Havana regime
is counting on. It is urgent that public opinion be alerted about a
possible ploy that – in the style of "eternal socialism" style — would
only want to artificially postpone the end of the most persistent and
pernicious dictatorship of the many that have blossomed in this Hemisphere.

Source: New Electoral Law: New Wine in Old Wineskins? / Miriam Celaya |
Translating Cuba -

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