SEOUL: North Koreans voted on Sunday in a pre-determined election for a rubber-stamp parliament—an exercise that doubles as a national head count and may offer clues to power shifts in Pyongyang.
The vote to elect representatives for the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) was taking place as scheduled, the state-run KCNA news agency said, adding that voter turnout was a whopping 91 percent as of 2 p.m.
Those who are ill or infirm and cannot travel to polling stations are casting votes at special “mobile ballot boxes,” it added.
Besides the physical casting of votes, there is nothing democratic about the ballot. The results are a foregone conclusion, with only one approved candidate standing for each of the 687 districts.
State newspapers on Sunday stressed it was the duty of “every single person” to vote in the poll.
The Rodong Sinmun—mouthpiece of the ruling Workers’ Party—said the election would promote North Korea as a “dignified, prosperous and strong socialist powerhouse.”
State-run media have in recent weeks stepped up propaganda to promote the election, with a number of poems produced to celebrate voting under titles including “The Billows of Emotion and Happiness” and “We Go To Polling Station.”
It was the first election to the SPA under the leadership of Kim Jong-Un, who took over the reins of power on the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il, in December 2011.
And like his father before him, Kim stood as a candidate—in constituency number 111, Mount Paektu.
Koreans have traditionally attributed divine status to Mount Paektu and, according to the North’s official propaganda, Kim Jong-Il was born on its slopes.
Elections are normally held every five years to the SPA, which only meets once or twice a year, mostly for a day-long session, to rubber-stamp budgets or other decisions made by the ruling Workers’ Party.
The last session in April 2013 adopted a special ordinance formalizing the country’s position as a nuclear weapons state—a status that both South Korea and the United States have vowed not to recognize.