World

Cuba holds 1st vote since thaw with US; in unusual twist, 2 dissidents on ballots

  • School children salute as a woman casts her ballot during Cuba's municipal elections at a polling station in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, April 19, 2015. Cuba held its first local elections since a historic thaw in relations with the United States with an unusual wrinkle in the single-party system: two of the 27,000 candidates openly oppose the government. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

    School children salute as a woman casts her ballot during Cuba's municipal elections at a polling station in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, April 19, 2015. Cuba held its first local elections since a historic thaw in relations with the United States with an unusual wrinkle in the single-party system: two of the 27,000 candidates openly oppose the government. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)  (The Associated Press)

  • Dissident and candidate Hildebrando Chaviano walks beside a portrait of revolutionary leader Che Guevara before casting his ballot during Cuba's municipal elections at a polling station in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, April 19, 2015. Cuba held its first local elections since a historic thaw in relations with the United States with an unusual wrinkle in the single-party system: two of the 27,000 candidates openly oppose the government. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

    Dissident and candidate Hildebrando Chaviano walks beside a portrait of revolutionary leader Che Guevara before casting his ballot during Cuba's municipal elections at a polling station in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, April 19, 2015. Cuba held its first local elections since a historic thaw in relations with the United States with an unusual wrinkle in the single-party system: two of the 27,000 candidates openly oppose the government. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)  (The Associated Press)

  • Dissident and candidate Hildebrando Chaviano signs to verify his vote for electoral officials before casting his ballot during Cuba's municipal elections at a polling station in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, April 19, 2015. Cuba held its first local elections since a historic thaw in relations with the United States with an unusual wrinkle in the single-party system: two of the 27,000 candidates openly oppose the government. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

    Dissident and candidate Hildebrando Chaviano signs to verify his vote for electoral officials before casting his ballot during Cuba's municipal elections at a polling station in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, April 19, 2015. Cuba held its first local elections since a historic thaw in relations with the United States with an unusual wrinkle in the single-party system: two of the 27,000 candidates openly oppose the government. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)  (The Associated Press)

Cuba is holding first local elections since a historic thaw in relations with the United States. And there's an unusual wrinkle in the single-party system: Two of the 27,000 candidates openly oppose the government.

Hildebrando Chaviano and Yuniel Lopez were chosen by a show of hands in Havana neighborhood nominating meetings and hope to win two of the 12,589 seats at stake on municipal councils Sunday.

A win by either would have symbolic but little immediate practical implication for the Communist Party system.

Municipal assemblies are at the bottom rung of the formal electoral system. They nominate half the candidates for provincial assemblies, which in turn choose half the candidates for the national parliament, which chooses the Council of State, which in turn elects the president.