North Korea confirmed today a near-perfect turnout for its parliamentary “election” in which single candidates – approved by the political elite – stood uncontested in 687 constituencies across the country.
“According to the election returns available, 99.97% of all the voters registered… took part in the election,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said.
Of the votes cast on Sunday, “100 percent” were for the unopposed candidates, a fact KCNA said demonstrated “the absolute support and trust of all voters” for the government.
The wholly stage-managed election for the North’s rubber-stamp Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) included a win for paramount leader Kim Jong-Un, who notably managed a perfect turnout in his own constituency.
The parliamentary poll is held every five years and turnout this time was actually slightly down on 2009 when 99.98% cast their ballots.
Each constituency had only one state-sanctioned candidate and voters were only allowed to mark “yes” on a ballot sheet in a closely-monitored polling booth.
Many top Korean officials are members of the parliament, and the election is an opportunity to see if any established names are absent.
The long list of elected candidates published by KCNA today amounted to a directory of the ruling elite.
Kim Jong-Un’s powerful aunt, Kim Kyong-Hui, was on the list, suggesting she remained in power – at least nominally – despite the purge and shock execution in December of her husband, Jang Song-Thaek.
The purge extended to Jang’s family members and close associates, some of whom were notably absent from the new parliamentary roll call.
But at least two officials linked with Jang were also on today’s list: Ji Jae-Ryong, the North’s former ambassador to China and Kim Yang-Gon, a top ruling Workers’ Party official in charge of inter-Korean relations.
Other high-profile names included Vice Marshall Choe Ryong-Hae, the vice-chairman of the party’s central military commission.
Seen as the number two in the leadership after Kim Jong-Un, Choe had disappeared from public view for several weeks in February, leading to speculation that he may have been purged as well.
The current prime minister Pak Pong-Ju, spy chief Kim Won-Hong, national police chief Choe Pu-Il, and armed forces minister Jang Jong-Nam were also listed. – AFP, March 11, 2014.