North Korea’s zealously monitored ritual of forcibly collecting mandatory show “votes” for a show “parliament” every five years began anew on Sunday, and surprise! Via the AP:
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. …
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. …
“This is an expression of all the service personnel and people’s absolute support and profound trust in supreme leader Kim Jong Un as they single-mindedly remain loyal to him,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.
Voters in the election have no choice who to vote for — there is only one candidate’s name on the ballot for each district. Instead, they have the choice of voting yes or no, and according to official accounts virtually all choose yes.
Well. It’s certainly an expression of something, although I don’t know that I’d title it “profound trust.” The state media agency has yet to announce the results for the nearly 700 members of the Supreme People’s Assembly — not that they even matter, because the “votes” for the government-selected, single-candidate ballots are not the basis through which Kim Jong Un is going to be selecting his deputies. Analysts are saying that Kim is looking to institute a shift away from some of the old guard (like the power-player uncle he had executed late last year) in his inner circle and consolidate his power by replacing them with younger, more loyal, and presumably less independently-minded members, via the NYT:
In a country where major military, party and state officials double as legislators, the new parliamentary lineup emerging from Sunday’s election will provide outside analysts a glimpse of who is rising in and falling from Mr. Kim’s favor.
Since he assumed power after the death of his father in December 2011, Mr. Kim has engineered a series of personnel changes and political purges among the elite that outside analysts said were aimed largely at eliminating potential challenges to his rule. The most dramatic purge unfolded in December when Jang Song-thaek, Mr. Kim’s uncle and the second-most powerful man in the North, was executed on charges of corruption and plotting to overthrow Mr. Kim. …
With a newly elected Parliament filled with his own people, Mr. Kim will feel more confident in replacing Mr. Jang, his followers and others who have lost his favor, analysts said.
So, in a nutshell, the only real purposes of this farcical exercise of an “election” are better-coordinated authoritarianism, state-propelled propaganda, and keeping Big-Brotherly close tabs on every man, woman, and child in North Korea. How nice.