North Korea’s state-controlled elections saw a 99.97% voter turnout on Sunday, with only those absent from the country not participating, state media reported.
Almost the entire country reportedly made it to the polls, including the elderly and ill, who cast their votes through “mobile ballot boxes” for uncontested candidates carefully selected by the ruling party.
North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, who exercises complete control over the country’s 24.9 million citizens, was also seen casting his ballot in the capital, Pyongyang.
The elections were Mr Kim’s first at a local level since he inherited the position in 2011, with voters reportedly “singing and dancing” as they cast their vote at polling stations “clad in a festive atmosphere”.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said: “All participants took part in the elections with extraordinary enthusiasm to cement the revolutionary power through the elections of deputies to the local people’s assemblies”.
Local elections are held every four years and voters choose mayors, local assemblies and governors, who meet twice a year to approve budgets and endorse leaders that have been approved by the ruling party.
In the 2011 elections, which also saw a 99.97% voter participation rate, 28,116 representatives were elected as deputies without a single vote of opposition.
Ballot papers only present one candidate to choose from, which has been overseen by Mr Kim’s Workers’ Party, and any dissenting votes are considered acts of treason.
The elections have been denounced as an effort by North Korea to appear democratic, but are also an opportunity for the government to see if any established names are absent and to oust any dissident behaviour.
South Korean intelligence says that dozens of North Korean officials have been purged since Mr Kim took power in 2011, including his once powerful uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, who was condemned as “factionalist scum” following his execution in 2013.
The results of the election are expected to be officially announced early next week.