In March 2018, China’s National People’s Congress, in a vote that took place in the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, approved dictator Xi Jinping to extend his term as president of China until 2023. Days before, the dictator had arranged for legislators to remove from the law the precept limiting the number of terms a leader can rule to two. This means that Xi Jinping will rule China until his death. One of the psychotic dreams of any dictator, to rule forever, will be thus fulfilled.
Of the ferocity of Xi Jinping’s dictatorship; of his omnipotent control over society and also over the Communist Party; and of his goal of imposing on China a state, a system of laws and a doctrine that is, not similar, but identical to his thinking, the results of that 2018 vote speak for themselves: 2970 votes in favor, no vote against and no abstentions.
I ask the reader to imagine a world ruled by the triad of 100% approval, no dissent, and no abstentions. The perfect, total, absolute dictatorship. A uniform world where everyone, without exception, is forced to think the same way. Namely, that Xi Jinping must rule China forever, and that the Chinese must be 100% happy about it. I must add that in his speech, the perfect dictator said a phrase that no one should forget: “the world also needs China.”
Before Xi Jinping, another dictator —Xi Jinping’s friend— had claimed a similar victory. In 2014, Kim Jong-Un announced that his triumph in North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly had been with 100% of the votes. In the following elections to the same body, in July 2019, it was announced that the turnout had reached 99.98% of the population. And that the people who could not attend on election day, who were identified, were North Korean diplomats and other officials who were out of their country during the voting. On that day, even terminally ill people were brought to the polling stations. Kim Jong-Un’s aspiration was to be reelected with an electoral base of 100% of the voters. The dictatorial dream of total unanimity, of applause without exceptions.
In September 2022, in the Russian regional elections, Putin’s party swept, just as the regime and the dictator had established. Nobody was shocked by the news: all the winning candidates were members of Putin’s party, United Russia. Moreover, there were “oblast”—regions— in which the electoral entities declared victories with more than 80% of the votes for the dictator’s candidates.
Let’s go now to Belarus, August 2020. In those days, dictator Alexander Lukashenko appropriated the presidential reelection, claiming 80% of the votes. To the democratic opposition candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, he assigned 10%. Neither the extensive document of irregularities recorded, nor the protests in more than 33 cities which led to more than 3000 detentions, nor the attested reports of witnesses, nor the international rejection of what happened, nor the European Union’s disregard of the results, nor Tikhanovskaya’s serious denunciations, changed the final result: the dictator took power indefinitely.
In the middle of this same week, Nicaragua’s National Electoral Council, an entity totally controlled by the dictatorial couple of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, proclaimed that in the municipal elections held on Sunday, November 6, 100% of the city governments had been won by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, the party organization in the hands of the couple.
It is worth noting this: the abstention rate exceeded 83%. The voters were public employees, municipal workers, members of the aforementioned party and the network of those “connected” which in Nicaragua is bountiful. A high percentage of these voters were pressured or forced to vote.
The lists, the control structures, the transportation systems, the entire military, paramilitary and police machinery was set in motion so that the party-government would win the elections. That is, to redouble the control of the criminal couple at the helm of power in Nicaragua. Not even, with the eagerness to pretend, was the triumph of any other candidate recognized, for example, in all the 11 mayoralties that the Citizens for Freedom Party controlled since the 2017 municipal elections. Like Xi Jinping, Ortega imposed a 100% victory. The murderous couple, Ortega and Murillo, do not only want absolute control of all institutions, but they also aim to wipe out all forms of dissidence from the face of the earth. Their model is: either applause or silence.
In each one of the cases here written down, human rights defense organizations, independent observers, media outlets and election experts agree in pointing out that: voting is not an election. An electoral process, worthy of the name, requires the fulfillment of a series of conditions with respect to electoral participation, candidacies, the guarantee of the right to vote, the non-coercion of voters, an environment of freedom of expression and many more things, so that instead of an activity controlled by the dictatorship, the process has a truly democratic character.
That is why I insist on quoting here a phrase written by Carlos Sanchez Berzain: “Voting in a dictatorship is not an election, it is organized crime.”
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times