In an overwhelming show of support for the current North Korean leadership, not a single vote was cast in opposition to Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un in Sunday's elections.
The ballot, which was the first since Kim inherited the job in April 2012, showed a 100 percent voter turnout nationwide, with every single person unanimously choosing the current leader. This beat out past elections, in which Kim Jong-il typically won with a meager 99.9 percent turnout.
According to several websites that claim to be official North Korean outlets, there are several parties in the North Korean parliament, called the Supreme People’s Assembly, including a women’s union, a social democratic party, a peasant party, and an agricultural workers union.
Despite the existence of several, presumably different, political parties, the elections do not exactly resemble a blooming Jeffersonian democracy. Only one candidate per party, who has been predetermined by the leadership, appears on the ballot and North Koreans are legally required to vote either yes or no in public.
It is technically legal to vote for someone other than Kim Jong-un, but dissenters would have had to walk to a specially designated booth in front of state officials to do so. In a country where it is not uncommon to be publicly executed for any type of vague “anti-state” crime, it shouldn’t be surprising that the line for that special booth was not exactly wrapping around the block.
The outcome of these predetermined elections reveals that their true nature is to carry out a census on the North Korean populace, showing who is rising and falling within the ruling Workers’ Party. They serve as a way to reaffirm the population’s “support” of the current leadership, rather than to actually pick the next leader of the country.
“Election in capitalist countries is a competition between a tiny handful of wealthy and powerful persons, but in the DPRK it is a synonym for happiness of electing representatives among ordinary people and becomes an important occasion to demonstrate the single-minded unity,” stated North Korean state media on Sunday. “Such election is beyond imagination in capitalist countries.”