Voters reject party choices

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 April, 2000, 12:00am

VOTERS for local-level legislative polls in Beijing have snubbed a number of candidates nominated by the Communist Party.

Party back-up no longer automatically guaranteed victory in village and township-level polls, according to a report by Zhang Xuming, an official of the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress.

The official China News Service reported that 45 party nominees lost in polls between November last year and February. By contrast, 33 deputies chosen were originally not on the official list of nominations.

Candidates who were found to be work-shy or failed to speak up for voters now stood a slim chance, Mr Zhang was quoted as saying in his report.

Demands for conversations with candidates had also become common, although these meetings needed to be improved, said Mr Zhang at the end of a two-day session of the Standing Committee on Friday.

Mr Zhang said in just-completed polls, ballots had to be cast more than once in 150 constituencies. He did not say why the results of the first voting were invalidated. In addition, breaches of electoral rules were reported in 10 other constituencies, while in six constituencies the victors fell short of the number of deputies required.

More than 2.76 million voters from 224 suburban towns and townships in the Beijing area cast their votes and returned altogether 11,677 new deputies for the village and township-level people's congresses.

In his report, Mr Zhang called for reforms of the voter registration methods. It was the first suggestion of changes to the system by a leading official.

In mainland China, the authorities register voters and then define constituencies on people's residence cards. However, with the development of the market economy, more and more population shifts are taking place, and the registration of voters has become a headache for officials.

Mr Zhang predicted that the difficulty would become even greater.

Beijing has staged three direct elections since 1996, one for people's deputies at the level of county and district and two for those at the level of town and township.