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Polls Apart: Elections in North Korea and India


Polls Apart: Elections in North Korea and India

Polls Apart: Elections in North Korea and India

North Korea went to the polls this Sunday for an election whose outcome is already well-known. This was an election to the Supreme People’s Assembly, the rubberstamp legislature of North Korea. The expected turnout is close to one hundred percent as voting is compulsory for all citizens above the age of 17.

While there are two other parties – the Korean Socialist Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongdu Party, these are relegated to a few allotted seats. In the absence of serious electoral competition, wide-spread totalitarianism and limited dissent, this electoral ritual is executed every five years to claim that the ruling Worker’s Party enjoys a mandate from the people.

The ballots will take a few days to count and the results of the elections will be announced in due course. What is certain is that these elections will bring no tangible change to the policies of North Korea. This is especially clear as a new report by a UN panel of experts has revealed that the country is flouting sanctions and importing more oil, expanding coal exports and selling weapons.

Contrary to this closed election, India will go to polls in the world’s largest-ever democratic exercise. This week, the Election Commission of India announced that the elections will commence in seven phases between April 11th and May 19th with the results being tabulated and announced on the 23rd of May. The multi-phase election model is done to accommodate the close to 850 million eligible voters across the country.

On election day, a verdict will be cast about the performance of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) performance. Despite recent tensions with Pakistan, and the presence of sustained violence against religious minorities and other marginalized communities, the economy is expected to be the major issue.

The BJP- led National Democratic Alliance will go up against a somewhat unified “grand alliance “of parties, amongst which the Indian National Congress (INC) plays a significant role. While some suggest that the grand alliance is the only way to defeat the BJP, the varying interests, ideologies and historical relationships of each party is already showing cracks.

Image Credit: CC by Narendra Modi Elections/ Wikimedia Commons

M. Sudhir Selvaraj

M. Sudhir Selvaraj writes the Weekly Security Brief for GCN. He is a fellow with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life. His interests lie in security of religious minorities, secularism, U.S. foreign policy and politics of South Asia. He is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at King’s College London. He has a master’s (with distinction) in International Relations from the Department of War Studies, King’s College London and graduated cum laude (with honors) from Concordia College, Minnesota with majors in Political Science and Global Studies and a minor in Business.

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