Kim wins re-election with 99.9% turnout
The Associated Press
Monday, March 9, 2009
Kim Jong Il was unanimously re-elected to North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament, state media said Monday, in elections closely watched for signs of a political shift or hints the autocratic leader is grooming a successor.
Turnout Sunday was 99.98 percent, with all voters backing the sole candidate running in their constituency, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.
Observers will be analyzing the list of legislators for clues as to how Kim and the ruling elite will govern the Communist nation over the next five years, and any signs he is grooming a successor.
Kim's third son, Kim Jong Un, reportedly ran for a seat Sunday in what analysts say would be a strong sign he is poised to inherit power. The 26-year-old is the youngest of the leader's three known sons and is said to be his father's favorite.
Kim, 67, reportedly suffered a stroke last August, around the time the elections were due to be held. North Korea denies he was ill and did not provide a reason for the delay to March.
The new assembly is expected to convene in early April to reconfirm Kim as leader in his capacity as chairman of the all-powerful National Defense Commission.
Elections in North Korea are largely a formality, since candidates are widely believed to be hand-picked by Kim and the ruling Workers' Party, and only one candidate runs in each constituency.
The North Korean Parliament meets only a few times a year to affirm bills vetted by the ruling party. But lawmakers also fill key party, government and military posts, making the list of legislators a telling indicator of how Kim's third term will take shape, analysts say.
KCNA traditionally provides a list of legislators around noon the day after the poll. But a report late Monday from KCNA said only that 686 lawmakers had been elected, without providing their names.
The past two elections have resulted in significant turnover. The 1998 balloting was Kim's formal ascension to power; he had inherited the country's leadership upon his father's death four years earlier but waited for the poll to clear out nearly two-thirds of the assembly's lawmakers.