Suffrage is universal for Cubans age 16 years and older, excluding citizens who have applied for emigration. Voting in elections in Cuba is legally mandatory, as it is throughout Latin America, and voter participation is invariably high. The government usually admits to a small proportion of spoiled ballots. Women’s suffrage was instituted in 1934, and women have taken on major roles in the political process since the revolution. A sizable minority of women are members of the National Assembly, and some occupy policymaking positions in the government, although men dominate the highest government and party offices.
In the early 1960s the government dissolved political parties and transformed three revolutionary organizations (the 26th of July Movement, Popular Socialist Party, and 13th of March Revolutionary Directorate) into a single national party, which was officially designated the Communist Party of Cuba in 1965.
The government also created several mass organizations, notably the ubiquitous Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, which maintain vigilance against ideological “enemies” and intimidate dissenters and are organized in every city, factory, and workplace and in many rural counties. Other organizations include the Federation of Cuban Women and the National Association of Small Farmers, which is composed of independent farmers, outside the system of collectivized state farms, who own a fraction of the total cultivated land. An important task of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution is to choose municipal delegates who, in turn, select provisional delegates and members of the National Assembly. In 1992 modifications in the electoral law permitted direct elections of members of the National Assembly.
About half of the elected members now also serve on municipal councils, while the remainder serve at large and are therefore not beholden to a designated constituency. There is no party slate and candidates need not belong to the official Cuban Communist Party. Delegates receive no compensation for their political service. There is considerable competition for elected office, despite the low opinion that many Cubans hold for delegates and government in general. "Cuba" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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