To elect the best, it is firstly necessary to know about the candidates. Photo: Dunia Álvarez Palacios

Like anything, our electoral system is perfectible. To believe it to be perfect would be, at the least, pretentious. But there are, let’s say essential, principles that distinguish it - principles on which our country has been built, based on an ideal of the just and the democratic, that puts the people at its very center.

It is in the people, in their right to propose, nominate, and elect those who will represent them, where we must seek the essences of a system far removed from electoral vices and campaigns; and where “the miracle” occurs, according to Fidel, its main architect, by which “a humble citizen of the people, without a cent, can be elected.”

And this kind of Cuban “miracle” did not come as an afterthought, nor was it the imitation of a previous model. As recalled by the Comandante en Jefe, in his speech on February 20, 1993, during the second working meeting with candidates for deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power and delegates to the provincial assembly in the former Ciudad de La Habana: “Fortunately, when we drew up the first Constitution, we did not copy, but rather we devised ideas about what elections should be in our country.

Young pioneers safeguard ballot boxes throughout the vote. Photo: Ortelio González Martínez

“… Everyone understood that our system was very democratic, in and of itself. Or at least, it was more democratic than all the others being applied, both under socialism and under capitalism, because we had established a key principle that was being expressed in concrete terms for the first time: this is the principle that the people do the nominating and the electing.

“… we had to create something new, something more just, something more equitable, more democratic, and more pure, as our major concern was to preserve the purity of our election process.”

This will to safeguard the integrity and transparency of the elections, and always consider the leading role of the people, were probably two of the ideas most reiterated by Fidel in each of his speeches referring to our elections. A system which many, even without knowing anything about it, are quick to attack.

And this transparency is not just talk, nor is it diminished by good or bad interpretations.

Transparency is born in a meeting of neighbors, in the middle of any block, where participants nominate their candidates without pressure or imposed conditions. Transparency begins with considering, as utmost qualities, the capacity of the candidates, their merits, their ethical values, and their commitment, never how much or little they have in their pocket. Transparency is the result of the presentation in public, frequented sites of the lists of voters, and the right to check one's details or request their incorporation.

This transparency is also seen in the publication, at the same sites where medicine or bread is bought, of the biographies of candidates, allowing voters to read about them, know their history, as choosing the best becomes more than a slogan, when it is assumed as both a right and a duty.

“In what other country are the candidates selected as they were selected here? They were selected at the grassroots level, directly by residents, then in the municipal assemblies of the delegates the residents elected… and through the lists presented by the candidacy commissions, made up of the mass organizations and chaired by the workers’ organization, without the Party presiding,” highlighted the leader of the Revolution, on March 15, 1993, during the closing session of the constitution of the National Assembly, in its 4th Legislature.In what other place - it might be added – is the strictest impartiality in the actions of the electoral authorities guaranteed? Or are voters or any other person allowed to check that the ballot boxes are empty before being sealed, and witness the counting of the votes? Where else is it the responsibility of pioneers, that is local school children, to watch over the ballot box?In very few places, some would say, if at all. A little over 24 years ago, Fidel assured, “What is happening is that after the Revolution accomplished so many things, after it achieved so many extraordinary achievements, now it has to struggle to save what it accomplished.” In terms of elections, this means, in his own words, that the people continue to see in the candidates they nominated, or the delegates they elect, the “modest people, humble people, hardworking people,” and that they can not say that “among them there is an embezzler, a thief, or someone who has become wealthy with the money of the people.”To all these strengths must be added, as recommended by the Comandante, “as a great privilege and advantage of our system,” the fact that half of the deputies to the National Assembly are local delegates, who will be elected this coming Sunday, November 26.As a certain deputy once said, “… a deputy must do everything he can for his country, no matter where he finds himself. He cannot become sectarian and think only of his district; but a deputy should do everything he can for his district, and whenever there is nothing he can do, he should talk with the electorate every chance he gets, to explain what is being done and what is not being done, what can be done and what cannot be done. We have to constantly explain things.”
As we approach November 26, the date set for the elections of delegates to the Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power, it would be worthwhile to return to the infinite wisdom of he who was always committed to the values of justice and equality of our system.Assuming the right to vote as a genuine expression of democracy, and selecting those who can best represent us, is a duty and an exercise in citizen participation that also reflects how we continue to support the national project that we have sovereignly chosen.