Cuban Leaders Have Reason to Be Worried Over the Referendum Results

A polling station in Havana where Cubans voted on Sunday, September 25 on whether or not to adopt the Family Code. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 26 September 2022 — Cuba’s Family Code referendum has provided important signals beyond whether or not the electorate has accepted what was being proposed. The most notable is that 26% of voters chose to abstain, a record high for an election conducted by the Communist regime.

The electoral law stipulates that only valid ballots may be considered in the final results. Those who abstained or canceled their ballots or left them blank are not taken into account. That is why the currrent tally indicates a 66.87% approval (the lowest ever for a government proposal). But if the entire electorate is included in the tally, the figure falls to less than 47%. The will of those who abstained as well as those who canceled their ballots or left them blank are not taken into consideration

If President Miguel Diaz-Canel had not said that a vote in favor of the Family Code is a vote for the revolution and for socialism, no one would be able to now claim there is legal evidence that supporters of the system are in the minority for the first time.

Furthermore, we are talking about an electorate that has been denied the chance to hear from those with differing opinions. No matter how much intelligence and political acumen one might want to attribute to those who have the right to vote in Cuba, informed pubic consent lacks a key component: awareness of opposing arguments.

Even if the measure is approved by more than the 70% minimum predicted by official sources, it is reasonable to assume that, had there been public debate between one side and another, the results would have been different.

As has already been said, the most controversial items (marriage equality, gestational surrogacy, a shift from parental authority to parental responsibility) were the ones that most shifted votes from one side to the other in this contest. And, of course, anti-government feelings led many to abstain while others voted “no” as a form of political punishment.

There were many homophobes who felt compelled to check the “yes” box out of party loyalty while many members of the LGBTQ community chose “no” simply as a protest against the system.* We already know how Evangelicals and a large subset of Catholics voted, as well as every member of the Communist Party.

Was there fraud? Technically, this would have been difficult to pull off given the large number of reliable accomplices it would have required. But those who assume that the government is capable of anything, given its ethical shortcomings, tend to be suspicious of the results.

Some will benefit and some will feel negatively impacted but by the results but, more importantly, there are many “up there” who are concerned that citizens are tired of saying yes to everything that comes there way.

*Translator’s note: The new code legalizes same-sex marriage.


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