N.Korea reports 1st opposing votes in local elections in decades

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Seoul, November 28 (IANS) North Korea on Tuesday said there were votes against candidates for deputies to local assemblies in the latest local elections, marking the first time in decades that the repressive regime has reported opposing votes in its polls.

A total of 27,858 workers, peasants, intellectuals and officials were elected new deputies for local assemblies of provinces, cities and counties in the local elections Sunday, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The voter turnout was recorded at 99.63 per cent, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Among voters who cast ballots, 99.91 per cent voted for the candidates for deputies to provincial people's assemblies and 0.09 per cent voted against them, the KCNA said.

In terms of deputies to city and county people's assemblies, 99.87 per cent voted for selected candidates and 0.13 per cent voted against them.

North Korea's state media carried a report of opposing votes in local elections for the first time since November 1956, when approval rates stayed below 100 per cent in two local elections.

Elections in the North are widely viewed as a formality, as the candidates are hand-picked by the North's ruling Workers' Party and rubber-stamped into office.

In the elections to pick deputies to local assemblies in July 2019, the voter turnout was 99.98 percent and 100 per cent voted for the candidates.

In March of that year, North Korea reported 99.99 per cent voter turnout and 100 per cent approval in the elections to select deputies to the Supreme People's Assembly, the country's parliament.

North Korea's rare revelation of opposing votes in the latest local elections may be intended to show that it democratically held the election following the revision of the election law.

For Sunday's voting, Pyongyang allowed two candidates to be recommended in some constituencies and held a preliminary election to decide on a final single candidate.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said the North's report of opposing votes does not mean that the country guarantees people's political rights.