North Korea Calls Citizens to Vote in Local Elections with Multiple Candidates

SEOUL – North Korea urged its citizens to vote in the first local elections featuring more than one candidate, a significant move in the reclusive regime's electoral process. As reported by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, by noon on Sunday, 47.8 percent of voters had participated in electing new deputies for local assemblies across the nation, including provinces, cities, and counties. The elections, held every four years, commenced at 10 a.m.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the introduction of multiple candidates in some constituencies marks an attempt to inject competition into the electoral system. The North's recently amended election law facilitated a preliminary election, where two candidates were initially considered for each position. This process culminated in the selection of a final candidate, who was then permitted to engage with voters during their campaign.

The Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's main newspaper, emphasized in an editorial the importance of participating in the election. The publication framed voting as a reflection of gratitude towards the party and state, calling it an "important political opportunity" to select deputies committed to serving the state and its people.

Footage dated Nov. 22, 2023, from North Korea's Korean Central TV, showed voters preparing for the elections scheduled for Nov. 26.

In contrast, the Rodong Sinmun criticized the U.S. election system, labeling it a facade of freedom and equality that conceals the flaws of a "rotten and ailing capitalist society." The newspaper accused the U.S. system of having discriminatory prerequisites for participation, such as race and wealth, and suggested that bribery significantly influences election outcomes in capitalist countries.

Despite the presence of multiple candidates, the North's local elections are generally considered a formality, with the ruling party pre-selecting and confirming candidates. The voter turnout in the previous local elections in July 2019 was recorded at 99.98 percent, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also casting his vote.

South Korea's unification ministry commented on the changes in the North's election system, stating that it does not signify the beginning of free elections in North Korea. Instead, it is viewed as a strategy to shape public opinion amid ongoing economic challenges.

scroll to top