[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
North Koreans vote in local elections
Polls seen by analysts as rubber-stamp procedure to help Kim Jong-il strengthen the position of his son and heir.
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2011 13:48
 The polls are being viewed as a procedure for Kim Jong-il to strengthen the position of his son and heir [Reuters]

North Koreans went to the polls for the first time in four years to take part in what analysts say is a rubber-stamp election for members of the local assemblies.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said on Sunday that local assembly elections began across the country as songs reverberated and flags fluttered over polling stations crowded with voters.

The local assemblies meet around once or twice a year to approve budgets and regional leaders appointed by the party.

The local elections are widely seen as a step to help strengthen the leader Kim Jong-il's hereditary succession by securing the power base for his third son Kim Jong-un.

'Symbolic support'

Little is known about Kim Jong-un. He is said to be in his late twenties and was unveiled as a four-star general last September, despite having no previous military experience.

His first public appearance was in October last year when he attended the ruling Workers' Party's 65th anniversary celebration.

This was seen as fully confirming his position as the next leader of the Workers' Party, with unprecedented international press access granted to the event.

Joseph Cheng, a political scientist at City University in Hong Kong, said the local election in North Korea was a measure for local authorities "to monitor grassroots activities" and an exercise to pave the way for the leadership succession process.

"This gives an opportunity for the local officials to monitor grassroots activities as well as support for the regime," said Cheng.

Cheng said the local election could be regarded as a step preceding elections of the Supreme People's Assembly which, in turn, will select the country's leader.

"It's speculated that this election exercise may facilitate symbolic support for the leadership succession process," Cheng said.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
join our mailing list