N. Korean voters go to local polls in festive mood

A polling station in Pyongyang yesterday. Typically, almost all voters take part in elections, casting "yes" votes for uncontested candidates.
A polling station in Pyongyang yesterday. Typically, almost all voters take part in elections, casting "yes" votes for uncontested candidates.PHOTO: XINHUA

SEOUL • North Koreans cast ballots yesterday in state-controlled polls to elect new representatives put forward by the ruling party for assemblies at provincial, city and county levels, state media said.

All polling stations were "clad in a festive atmosphere", and voters were dancing and singing, according to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency.

Typically, 99 per cent of voters in the de facto single-party state take part in elections, and 99 per cent of them cast "yes" votes for uncontested candidates.

In 2011, 28,116 representatives were elected as deputies to local assemblies without a single vote of opposition to the candidates.

During each four-year term, the local assemblies convene once or twice a year to approve budgets and endorse leaders appointed by the ruling party.

The North, which the Kim dynasty has ruled with an iron fist for more than six decades, held elections for its rubber-stamp Parliament last year. In the past, North Korean elections have been an opportunity to see if any established names are absent.

South Korean intelligence officials say dozens of senior North Korean officials have been purged since Mr Kim Jong Un took power, following the death of his father Kim Jong Il in December 2011.

The most high-profile purge to date took out Mr Kim's once-powerful uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was condemned as "factionalist scum" following his execution in 2013. Mr Kim also replaced his defence minister in April.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2015, with the headline 'N. Korean voters go to local polls in festive mood'. Print Edition | Subscribe