Local elections in North Korea over the weekend went just about as expected. State-run Korean Central News Agency reported that 99.97 percent of voters participated in Sunday’s ballot, which is held every few years and essentially involves predetermined candidates who are rubber-stamped into office. Any lingering curiosity about the remaining .03 percent quickly evaporates, as the agency acknowledged that they were “on foreign tour or working in oceans” at the time. If that feels, well, unbelievable, in a world of strongmen and staged elections, think back to these past examples. (Yes, North Korea makes an appearance.)
The time Kazakhstan’s president “apologized” for getting nearly every vote. Officials in the predominantly Muslim former Soviet republic announced in April that President Nursultan Nazarbayev won a fifth term. He took about 98 percent of the vote in an election that the government said had turnout around 95 percent. (In 2011, Nazarbayev took 95.5 percent.)
The next day, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which monitored the ballot, said “voters were not offered a genuine choice between political alternatives.” Nazarbayev, who has led the Central Asia nation since 1989, sincerely slammed his critics.
“I apologize if these numbers are unacceptable for the superdemocratic countries, but there was nothing I could do,” he said in televised remarks from the capital, Astana. “If I had interfered, it would have been undemocratic.”