Cuba has held historic legislative elections to choose lawmakers that will in turn elect President Raul Castro’s successor, who will be the country’s first leader from outside of the Castro family since the Cuban Revolution in the 1960s.
Some eight million eligible voters voted to choose 605 deputies of the National Assembly and 1,265 delegates to regional assemblies.
“Most of our deputies and delegates are young and are going to be the country’s leaders. It can help sustain the revolution,” said one voter, Julio Omar Prieto Garcia.
“The deputies and delegates are all prepared and possess higher degrees, so they know how to do their jobs. They have our approval,” said another, Gretchell Gonzalez.
President Castro, 86, was the first person to cast his vote on Sunday at a polling station in Segunda Frente, a town in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba.
The new elected lawmakers in the National Assembly will be tasked with choosing a successor to Castro, who plans to cede power next month in April, thus, ending nearly 60 years of leadership by the two Castro brothers, Fidel and Raul, which began in the 1960s with the Cuban Revolution.
“The next president may not have that surname, but he will undoubtedly be a son of the Revolution,” the Cuban Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.
Castro’s possible successor is predicted to be First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
Diaz-Canel, who cast his vote in the central city of Santa Clara, said the elections were a way for Cubans to defend their political system and way of life.
“We are going to elect a government that serves the people,” Diaz-Canel said after voting. “The triumphal march of the revolution will continue. Peace, liberty, independence, and the sovereignty of the people will endure.”
Castro, himself, is running for a seat at the National Assembly as a deputy representing his jurisdiction.
The legendary leader of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro, died on November 2016, ten years after he ceded power to his brother, Raul.