Kim wins. That is the unsurprising outcome of North Korea’s first legislative elections under the leadership of young dictator Kim Jong Un. State media report that nearly 100% of eligible North Koreans voted in Sunday’s poll, and 100% of them cast votes in favor of the status quo. This is only partly as ridiculous as it sounds: voting is mandatory and there is one option on the ballot. Indeed, when North Korea votes, it votes. When exactly 100% of eligible North Korean set out to cast votes 100% in favor of predetermined politicians, they were carried forth on “billows of emotion and happiness,” state media reported. And nowhere were they happier — or more billowy, presumably — that in Kim’s district, Mount Paektu, the Korean peninsula’s highest peak. The group that voted at the storied site were so moved by the exercise that they spontaneously burst into song, state media said.
North Korea reported a perfect turnout on Sunday for its first national election in five years to confirm state-selected representatives for its rubber-stamp parliament. The election, the first under dictator Kim Jong Un, provides the state with a chance to buttress the leadership by elevating or demoting officials based on their loyalty to the regime. It is also used as an unofficial census, allowing the government to check on the whereabouts of its citizens. Defectors say that some North Koreans return to the country for the election to avoid the state learning of their absence.
With no one else on the ballot, state media reported Monday that supreme leader Kim Jong Un was not only elected to the highest legislative body in North Korea, he won with the unanimous approval of his district, which had 100% turnout. North Koreans went to the polls on Sunday to approve the new roster of deputies for the Supreme People’s Assembly, the country’s legislature. The vote, more a political ritual than an election by Western standards, is generally held once every five years. Though results for the other seats in the assembly had not yet been announced, North Korea’s media quickly reported Kim had won in his district — located on the symbolic Mount Paekdu — without a single dissenting ballot.
Some North Korean defectors in China said they would sneak back into their country to vote in an election to further conceal their absence and prevent possible repercussions against family members. It was unclear how many defectors returned to North Korea for the March 9 election to pick deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly. Some defectors said they had no plans to return for the vote. But all defectors interviewed by The Asahi Shimbun denied they had any interest in the election itself. “All candidates in past elections were strangers,” one of them said. “Voting meant nothing for us.” What they were interested in was the stricter voter identification control in the latest election. The defectors in China heard that North Korean authorities would conduct extensive investigations into anybody who did not turn up at a polling station.
North Korea is holding parliamentary elections. Well, sort of. Three days ahead of Sunday’s vote, the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland looks set to complete yet another clean sweep of the 687-seat Supreme People’s Assembly. But maintaining their unanimous hold on parliament shouldn’t be challenging: There are no opposition parties on the ballot. The Democratic Front, the governing coalition led by Kim Jong Un’s ruling Workers’ Party, has handpicked one — and only one — candidate for each district. It’s nearly impossible to determine which individuals and institutions hold real power within the secretive North Korean government, but one thing is clear: The Supreme People’s Assembly is not one of them. Parliamentary elections, which are held every five years, are little more than a progranda excercise for a regime ruled by its despotic dictatorship at the top. Still, the North Korean government remains determined to uphold at least the appearance of democratic legitimacy. On Wednesday, the state news agency KCNA reported that election preparations were “gaining momentum.” “Agitation activities are going on to encourage citizens to take active part in the election with high political enthusiasm and labour feats, amid the playing of ‘Song of the election.'” Let the horserace begin.
On March 8, virtually all North Korean adults will be expected (or rather required) to come to their local polling station in order to partake in the elections of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the North Korean parliament.The ritual has been repeated every four or five years and hence is quite predictable. First, the voters form remarkably orderly cues, and upon entering the station they will make a deep bow to the portraits of the Leaders from the Kim family which has been running the country for almost 70 years. Having completed this important ritual, they will be issued ballot papers, whereupon they will proceed to a voting box. The ballot will have only one candidate, even though the voter has the theoretical option of voting against the candidate. If the North Korean media is to be believed, not a single person nationwide has exercised this theoretical right. The picture described above is quite typical of Stalinist electoral systems. First created in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, this pattern was then copied across the socialist bloc. The standout feature of this system was the non-competitive nature of the elections. There was only one candidate in every electoral district, thus the success of a given candidate was preordained. The party bureaucracy decided the names of the candidates well before the elections were held.
North Korea, accused of human rights violations, elects its largely symbolic parliament this weekend, with leader Kim Jong-un, the third in his family dynasty to rule the totalitarian state, running unopposed in a legendary mountain district. State news agency KCNA said on Thursday that election preparations were “gaining momentum”, with voters confirming their names on electoral lists for the ballot held every five years. “Agitation activities are going on to encourage citizens to take active part in the election with high political enthusiasm and labour feats, amid the playing of ‘Song of the election’,” KCNA reported. North Koreans, it said, sought to “demonstrate once again the might of single-minded unity by casting ballots for their candidates”.