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UPDATED: June 13, 2011 NO. 24 JUNE 16, 2011
How Are Party Congress Delegates Elected?
The election of the delegates to the 17th National Congress of the CPC shows how democracy works in the Party

The 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was held in October 2007. The 2,217 delegates participating in the Congress were elected through Party congresses or conferences of 38 election institutions across China. It is indeed a big project to elect the delegates from more than 70 million Party members and it needs both clear rules and strict procedures.

In order to conduct the elections smoothly, the Central Committee of the CPC issued a notice on election procedure after the Sixth Plenary Session of the 16th CPC Central Committee in October 2006. The notice clearly defined four requirements for delegates. The first is to obey and implement the Party Constitution, have lofty ideals of Communism and firm convictions in socialism with Chinese characteristics, and maintain the advanced nature of Party members. The second is to firmly implement the Party's line, principles and policies, properly understand and implement the decisions of the CPC Central Committee and to accord with the Central Committee. The third is to take the lead in working hard and making remarkable achievements at work, and to be just, honest and upright. The fourth is to get close to and gain the support of the masses, have a strong ability of participating in policy making, actively and honestly reflect the opinions and requirements of Party members and the people, exercise appropriately democratic rights, and loyally do one's duty.

In order to ensure democracy in the elections, the notice set up five strict steps.

1. Recommendation and nomination. The nominated delegates should be elected from the grassroots level. A greater number of Party members should be mobilized to participate in the elections of the grassroots Party organizations. The nominated delegates should be decided on after careful consideration of the opinions of the majority of the Party members.

2. Observation. The preliminarily nominated delegates should be observed according to the requirements. These include political integrity, style of work and life, morality, self-discipline, performance at work, support of the masses and the ability to participate in policy making. All these aspects should be observed carefully.

3. Making public a preliminary list of candidates. Based on quotas, candidates' qualifications and the result of the observation, the preliminary list is made public at the proper time. Before the list is decided, it should be given to the Party discipline inspection bodies at the same level for double check.

4. Deciding the list of candidates. A general Party committee meeting should be held to decide the list and submit it to the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee for initial examination. Before the provincial general Party congress is held, the list should be announced to democratic parties, federations of industry and commerce as well as personages without party affiliation for their opinions.

5. Election. Holding a Party conference to make the margin election for the delegates of the 17th National Congress of the CPC.

The 17th National Congress of the CPC adopted six new measures in delegate elections.

1. The number of candidates was increased. At the elections, the number of delegate candidates should be 15 percent more than the number of final delegates, 5 percentage points more than before.

2. The recommended candidates by the Party committees at county- and prefecture-level were nominated by Party standing committees and decided by the general Party conferences, instead of being decided directly by the Party standing committees as previously.

3. An observation report on the preliminary candidates was made. The election institutions made public the preliminary list in a proper way to collect opinions about the candidates.

4. Before a Party committee at the provincial, prefecture and city level decided the preliminary candidates, they announced the decision to democratic parties, federations of industry and commerce as well as personages without party affiliation for opinions. This had never happened before.

5. To promote a broad representation, the CPC Central Committee made rules on the composition of the delegates. In every province, autonomous region and municipality, of the delegates, Party officials should not exceed 70 percent and Party members working in the front line should not be less than 30 percent. The proportion of workers, farmers and professional technical personnel was increased. The proportion of women delegates and delegates from the minorities were higher than that of the region, respectively. A certain number of delegates from new economic and new social organizations was required.

6. Strengthening publicity of elections work. Based on open management of Party affairs, the congress, at the proper time, announced arrangements, procedures and relative requirements of the elections through the media and reported at the proper time the process through the media.

The author is a researcher with the Marxism Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

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