Transitional Election Planning Manual (Executive Summary), Republic of Cuba
This manual for holding free and fair elections was created in hopes of helping the Cuban people in the context of democratic transition. It is written from the perspective that information about democratic transitions and the important role that free and fair elections play in that process can be useful to a wide variety of people, both on the island and in exile, as well as friends of Cuba in the international community. This manual is based on the conviction that it will someday be useful, and needed, to support a democratic transition in Cuba.
The work draws upon the expertise of staff and consultants of the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), a non-governmental, non-profit and non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C. For more than a decade, IFES has encouraged and strengthened democratic institutions, governance and practices worldwide. IFES has provided expert technical assistance in election administration in countries spanning the globe, particularly those countries holding competitive elections for the first time. IFES also works with newly elected parliaments and local governments, supports local nongovernmental organizations engaged in civic education and broadening political participation, and conducts international and domestic election observations. IFES currently has field offices in 25 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Asia.
What follows is a compendium of ideas and practices that might be useful for future Cuban officials and non-governmental leaders who are beginning a transition to democracy, or who are contemplating seeking reform of the current regime. Each section is written to be self· standing in order to facilitate its use by parties with specific interests in a particular topic. The document discusses the minimum international norms and standards for free and fair elections, as well as the legal, constitutional and administrative options that are available to transition authorities. It also offers ideas, based on examples from countries around the world, about what will be needed to establish and support an honest, efficient and transparent system of election administration, and what role the international community might be invited to play in that process.
IFES has taken care not to offer an invasive blueprint to be adopted or rejected, but rather a series of options based on history and experience that fair-minded people of various democratic political faiths might wish to consider. As an organization with experience in myriad cultures and systems, IFES seeks with its contribution not to foreordain a specific outcome, other than the return of rule by the people and for the people to Cuba. We have tried at all times to convey our view that, where practicable, Cuban models are preferable to those that might be emulated from even the most successful experiments abroad.
A summary of the report's observations, recommendations and findings follows. Subsequent chapters deal with specific topics of interest to policymakers and aficionados alike, both on the island and abroad.