Politburo Meets as Party Sets Stage for SPA

A full meeting of the Chosun Workers’ Party Politburo convened in Pyongyang yesterday, Rodong Sinmun reported this morning. The
meeting put in place the last pieces of the puzzle before the opening session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly, which begins in the North Korean capital this morning.

According to a brief article carried by KCNA, the Politburo meeting discussed three key matters: “the issue
of reinforcing the organization so as to increase the leadership role and function
of the Party;” a “proposal for forming a state leadership body;” and an
“organizational matter.” No further details were made public. All the
proposals, which the KCNA report notes were agreed upon unanimously, will now go forward to
the Supreme People’s Assembly for ratification.

As ever, there is great
speculation as to what actions today’s SPA session will take. The institution
has a broad constitutional remit, including dealing with budgets, legislative
changes, and establishing the core of domestic and foreign policy. It also has
the right to appoint or recall officials from state institutions such as the National
Defense Commission (NDC) and Cabinet.

However, it also has limited functionality, and is beholden
to decisions handed down to it by the Party. Given that in recent years it has focused mainly on rubber-stamping policy concerning Kim regime idolization, this time it is expected to follow suit.

In particular, the first meeting of any SPA is sure to reaffirm its loyalty to the Kim-led system first and foremost. For instance, at the time of the first meeting of the 12th SPA
in April 2009, an upcoming “Important Broadcast” was announced at midday. Thereafter,
it was revealed with some fanfare that former leader Kim Jong Il had been re-elected chair of
the NDC.