Opponents of the Cuban government are putting forward an unprecedented number of candidates for municipal elections in late October, the first step in a process to select a new president after nearly 60 years of the Castro brothers’ rule.

The electoral cycle comes at a tricky time for the Caribbean nation as the Castros’ revolutionary generation dies off, an economic reform program appears stalled, aid from key ally Venezuela shrinks, and the Trump administration threatens.

The municipal vote, the only part of the electoral process with direct participation by ordinary Cubans, is expected to attract 35,000 candidates for the island’s 168 municipal assemblies. It will be followed by provincial and national assembly elections in which candidates are selected from slates by commissions.

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