A guide to North Korean “elections” – due in March

January 9, 2014

Investors are bracing themselves this year for elections in all of “Fragile Five” countries and a number of other emerging nations that are adding political concerns to those economies already vulnerable to capital flight risks.

Perhaps a lesser-known political event that is coming up in 2014 is in North Korea, which will hold “elections” for its parliament on March 9.

The polls will elect members of the country’s rubber-stamping Supreme People’s Assembly for the first time since 2009 and also for the first time since Kim Jong-Un — the third generation of his family to rule the Stalinist state — took leadership in 2011.

The event is likely to offer fresh insight into the future power structure in the reclusive North as Kim is consolidating his power after he purged and executed his uncle Jang Song Thaek — one of the most powerful figures until a few weeks ago

The Supreme People’s Assembly, or parliament, is officially the North’s highest body of sovereign power that can revise the constitution, approve the budget and make appointments to top official positions, including the National Defense Commission.

The assembly session meets once or twice a year and is a highly choreographed affair focused on budget matters, with legislation traditionally passed by unanimous approval.

It’s not clear how “elections” are held in North Korea but here are some interesting observations from the last election in 2009

- There was a single candidate in each of 687 constituents

- 100% voted for their candidate in each district

- Citizens of foreign nations resident in North Korea were also encouraged to vote if they wished

- Electors who refused to vote were supposedly sent to Labour camp

You can read more about EM election risks from my colleague @ReutersCarolynC here and @ReutersMikeD here

For a calendar of elections, click here

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