The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a dictatorship. Despite the dictatorial nature of the regime and the complete lack of democratic structures, North Koreans go to the polls every five years. At the national level, citizens elect a legislature – the Supreme People’s Assembly, which has 687 seats. Additionally, people elect representatives to city, county, and provincial people’s assemblies.
However, the term “election” is misleading when it comes to North Korea’s political system. Candidates for office must be a member of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, which is an alliance of the country’s three political parties, the Worker’s Party of Korea, the Korean Social Democratic Party and the Cheondoist
Chongu Party. (The two latter ones are bound by law to follow the Workers’ Party’s political agenda, so the distinction is rather academic.) Before elections, each party nominates candidates for office; the Democratic Front then selects a single nominee for each political post. The candidate in each seat is then considered by the electors in meetings at the workplace or similar, and on election day the electors can then indicate approval or disapproval of the candidate on the ballot paper. A voter may cross off the candidate's name to vote against him, but must do so in a special booth without any secrecy, which nobody dares. This means people merely confirm candidates chosen by the unelected Democratic Front. Voting is mandatory and mainly serves as a test of people’s loyalty to the leadership and to confirm people’s whereabouts.
March 2014 saw the first parliamentary election after the death of leader Kim Jong-il in December 2011. Unsurprisingly, the three member parties of the Democratic Front snapped up nearly all the votes, with the Workers’ Party winning 607 seats, the Social Democratic Party 50, and the Chongu Party 22. Voter turnout was reported to be near 100%.