Cubans overwhelmingly ratify constitution enshrining socialist government
February 26, 2019
Cubans have overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new constitution that enshrines the country’s one-party socialist system as “irrevocable” and institutes other economic and social reforms.
The president of Cuba’s national electoral commission, Alina Balseiro Gutierrez, claims that 84.4 percent of Cuba’s 7.8 million potential voters participated in the Sunday referendum. Of the potential electorate, 73.31 percent voted to ratify, while 7.6 percent opposed ratification and 4.5 percent spoiled or left ballots blank.
The new constitution contains references to “markets and recognition of private property, foreign investment, small businesses, gender identity, the internet, the right to legal representation upon arrest and habeas corpus.” It includes the addition of a prime minister and imposes term limits on the presidency, among other changes to government structure.
Debate over the new constitution has dominated Cuba’s politics for months. The government initially organized a grassroots debate on a draft of the constitution last year. However, after approving a final version of the referendum in December it utilized its control of traditional media and public spaces to campaign for ratification. Meanwhile, dueling campaigns for and against the constitution battled on the internet.
There are no exit polls in Cuba, but social media and reports of local vote tallies seem to confirm the results.