Cuban parliament unanimously approves electoral law

The electoral law allows for both a president and a prime minister but bars a multiparty system.

    Like the president and parliament deputies, the prime minister can now be elected to a maximum of two five-year consecutive terms [Irene Perez/Cubadebate/Reuters]
    Like the president and parliament deputies, the prime minister can now be elected to a maximum of two five-year consecutive terms [Irene Perez/Cubadebate/Reuters]

    Cuba's parliament has approved a new electoral law which calls for both a president and a prime minister but has no provision for a multiparty system, maintaining the Communist Party as the only permitted political organisation in the country.

    The new electoral law was unanimously approved in Saturday's parliamentary session which included former President Raul Castro, who remains the head of the Communist Party of Cuba, and current President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

    Like the president and parliament deputies, the prime minister can now be elected to a maximum of two five-year consecutive terms. 

    Diaz-Canel is expected to remain president and appoint a prime minister, a position for which there are still no official candidates.

    Previously, the 1976 constitution had abolished the role of the prime minister, consolidating all executive powers into the presidency. 

    Esteban Lazo, the president of the National Assembly, said the prime minister will be named in December, while the vote to elect the president will happen in October.

    Following the new legislation, parliament will be downsized from the present 605 deputies to 474 seats.

    The new constitution was approved in February this year in a referendum which included some noteworthy economic and social reforms. More than 86 percent of Cuban voters voted yes to approve the constitution, according to the government, with turnout estimated at 84.4 percent.

    While the constitution reaffirms the nation's commitment to socialism, including guaranteeing healthcare and education as fundamental human rights, there is a notable liberal shift in the country's economic direction, an attempt to reinvigorate its troubled economy. 

    The constitution officially recognises private property, the right of the state to partner with multinational companies and promoting foreign investment. 

    In addition to economic reforms, the constitution also includes major civil rights provisions such as forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation, protection of women's sexual productive rights, and criminalising gender-based violence that includes workplace discrimination and street harassment. 

    The presumption of innocence is now also enshrined in the constitution, including the right to legal representation and habeas corpus.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies