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It's a bit of a running joke that dictatorships have the word "Democratic" in their name, and this is especially well known for the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea".

My question is, though, is there anything they do that at least attempts (or pretends) to justify the name? Even Saddam Hussein ran in elections (even if the only candidates were "Saddam Hussein" and "Have you and your family shot" and the results were so obviously rigged it was hilarious).

Do they run any sort of elections in North Korea even if it's just to legitamise the regime?

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There actually are elections in North Korea, but like in most one party dictatorships they serve mostly as a ritual where citizens demonstrate loyalty to the government rather than as a form of political participation.

There actually are multiple parties in North Korea, but they are all organized in one very closely cooperating group, the "Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland" (DFRF) which is controlled by the "Workers' Party of Korea".

The parties do not directly compete, because there is just one candidate for each seat, each one nominated by the DFRF. Voters can theoretically vote against that candidate by crossing out the name on the ballot, but polling stations are designed to make it impossible to do this without the election officials noticing it. So anyone who makes use of this option might face persecution.

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    I was under the impression that elections in North Korea also serve as a census. Voting is mandatory and turnout is usually 100%. The most likely reason one would not vote are (1) unnoticed death or (2) secret defection. The state removes non-voters from the list of registered voters (and more importantly cancels their ration coupons). – emory May 29 '18 at 1:03
  • @emory Interesting. Do you have a source for that? – Philipp May 29 '18 at 7:55
  • cnn.com/2015/07/21/asia/north-korea-election-result/index.html. I can not find any support for the cancellation of ration coupons, but if you were the head of household and one of your family dropped dead of famine would you immediately ask for your rations to be cut accordingly? I think he died the morning of elections. Too bad b/c he really wanted to vote for Kim Jung Un. – emory May 29 '18 at 15:42

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