‘99.91% for – 0.09% against’.
Regular “elections” for regional and city people’s assemblies members were held in North Korea (DPRK). It was possible to elect one of two candidates on the ballot (this change was introduced only in August this year) for the first time in 67 years.
The “elections” took an unexpected turn, as for the first time in 67 years, votes were officially recorded against the elected MPs. Reuters wrote about this today with reference to the North Korean state publication KCNA.
“Reporting the results of Sunday's elections for regional people's congresses, the North's state media said 0.09% and 0.13% of voters were against elected candidates for provincial and city assemblies, respectively,” Reuters reported, citing North Korea's KCNA.
Reuters notes that the last time such disagreement during an election in the DPRK was officially recognized was only in 1956, under the rule of Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong Un and the creator of the current North Korean political regime. The “elections” to regional and city people’s assemblies are held in the DPRK once every 4 years, and the turnout for them is always officially more than 99% (turnout is mandatory according to the country's laws).
There are several opinions as to why the DPRK leadership allowed the world to see at least a tiny percentage of those who disagree.
First of all, as Reuters writes, this may indicate attempts to “show everyone the image of a normal society in North Korea.” Secondly, it may also be an attempt to “strengthen its legitimacy before neighbours and enemies,” especially Western democracies.
And the third option, the most unlikely, is a sign of a slight increase in respect for rights and freedoms, as well as relaxation for citizens of the DPRK.