According to the Cuban constitution, Cuba is an independent socialist republic. The constitution describes the Communist Party of Cuba as the "leading force of society and of the state". The first secretary of the Communist Party is concurrently President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers. Members of both councils are elected by the National Assembly of People's Power. The President of Cuba, who is also elected by the Assembly, serves for five years and there is no limit to the number of terms of office.
The National Assembly is the legislative body of the Cuban government. The Assembly is currently composed of 611 members whose terms last 5 years. The assembly meets twice a year; between sessions legislative power is held by the 31 member Council of State. Candidates for the Assembly are approved by public referendum. All Cuban citizens over 16 who have not been convicted of a criminal offense can vote. Article 131 of the Constitution states that voting shall be "through free, equal and secret vote".
Article 136 states: "In order for deputies or delegates to be considered elected they must get more than half the number of valid votes cast in the electoral districts". Votes are cast by secret ballot and counted in public view. Nominees are chosen at local gatherings from multiple candidates before gaining approval from election committees. In the subsequent election, there is only one candidate for each seat, who must gain a majority to be elected.
43.37% of the members of the National Assembly are women.
No political party is permitted to nominate candidates or campaign on the island.
The Council of Ministers is the highest ranking executive and administrative body and constitutes the government of the Republic of Cuba. It consists of the President, the First Vice President and the Vice Presidents, the Secretary of the Executive Committee, the heads of the national ministries and other members as established by law.
Administratively, Cuba is divided into 15 provinces and 169 municipalities; each of the latter has an elected municipal assembly. Provincial and regional executive committees are elected by the members of the National Assembly.
Currently Raúl Castro, brother of former President Fidel Castro, is President of the Council of State, President of the Council of Ministers, First Secretary of the Communist Party, and Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. Ricardo Alarcón is President of the National Assembly.
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