Voting has taken place in North Korea in what is being dubbed the world’s most pointless election.
The local elections are the first to be held in the communist dictatorship since Kim Jong-Un came to power in 2011.
But quite how democratic the elections are is not difficult to decipher.
Each ballot paper lists only one candidate in each district, with the decision over who is selected closely overseen by Kim’s party, the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland.
Turnout is likely to be high – but that’s because if you are found not have taken part “you and your family are in trouble”, according to NK News.
The last local elections, in 2011, saw a recorded turnout of 99.7 per cent, and a 100 per cent approval rate for candidates, from an electorate spanning 24.9million citizens. The state news agency said those who did not vote were only unable to do so because they had been on the high seas or abroad.
In 2013, Transparency International ranked the hermit state the most corrupt country in the world.
In last year’s elections for the country’s Supreme Assembly, a 100 per cent turnout was recorded and a 100 per cent approval given for the government’s policies, according to the news agency.
Daniel Pinkston, an analyst with The International Crisis Group in Seoul, says holding the election informs the government of any possible defectors or rebels.
“It is a method of social control that enables the authorities there to confirm the whereabouts of its citizens and to identify any who are not where they are meant to be,” he told The Telegraph.
North Koreans have been asked to donate beautiful valuables to decorate voting booths for today’s vote, the UPI news agency reports.
While students as young as nine are understood to have been required to volunteer for campaigning activities from morning to evening, despite the result being seen as a foregone conclusion.
The pro-Pyongyang Choson Sinbo in Japan has reported that all of North Korea has been "stirred up" ahead of today’s voting and activities which have been occurring at “full throttle” are “elevating the mood of the election”.
Ahead of last year’s elections to the Supreme Assembly, reports that the ballot was not held in secret and opposing votes had to be placed in separate boxes, indicating dissenters, surfaced.
Abstaining or voting ‘no’ are believed to be acts of treason, as is using a red pen to mark the ballot box which is taken to suggest a ‘no’ vote.
The same family has ruled North Korea since it was established as the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea in 1948 by Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung.
Kim Il-Sung ruled until his death in 1994, when his role was inherited by his son, Kim Jong-Il, who was the country’s leader until he died in 2011.
The results of today’s election, held every four years to elect provincial governors, mayors and local representatives, are expected to be announced early next week.
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