Primary to be held for Central Committee

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 October, 2007, 12:00am

Presidium opts to continue poll method

The 17th National Congress presidium has decided to hold a primary election to choose the new Central Committee - the same method used by the party since 1987.

The 237-member body held its second meeting yesterday and announced it had approved the method, but it still has to be endorsed by the more than 2,200 delegates.

A list of the recommended candidates has also been put forward to the delegates.

The presidium decided that delegates will hold a primary before a final ballot to choose the committee members, Xinhua said. The same method has been followed since the 13th National Congress in 1987.

The procedure will allow party leaders to control the election results to ensure their favoured members are chosen. As a safety measure, those who are voted down will have a second chance to be elected alternate members.

Displaying typical caution and secretiveness, a senior party official said that the method was still being finalised.

'The election method is still being deliberated by the delegates,' said Ouyang Song, deputy head of the party Central Committee's Organisation Department.

Two of the major focuses at the five-yearly party caucus are on whether the party leadership intends to increase the level of competition for party delegates to be elected to the Central Committee and whether it has any timetable for introducing competitive elections at a higher level - the Politburo or its Standing Committee.

'As for how large a margin of the competition, that is decided by the election method which is still being drawn up,' Mr Ouyang said.

Without giving details, Xinhua hinted that delegates would be given more choice than their predecessors five years ago.

In 2002, delegates were asked to elect 198 Central Committee members from a shortlist of 208 - 5.1 per cent more candidates than elected members.

Mr Ouyang said that elections to both the Central Committee and the Politburo would be conducted by secret ballot.

He said the number of members and alternate members for the two new bodies would not be made public until the last day of the meeting.

The newly elected leadership is scheduled to convene for the first time and to meet the press after the week-long congress ends on Sunday. It is expected that the first plenum of the new Central Committee will convene on Monday.

The current committee has 198 members and 158 alternate members.

There are 22 members of the Politburo, which originally had 24.

Party reformists had pleaded in the lead-up to the party congress for the number of candidates for the Politburo - the party's decision-making body - to surpass the number of elected members.

After taking over from Jiang Zemin five years ago, president and party general secretary Hu Jintao has promoted his own brand of democracy, which is embodied in 'intra-party democracy'.

It essentially means setting up checks and balances within the party framework and increasing the accountability of party officials.

'Intra-party democracy is the lifeline of the party, but the unity and solidarity within the party is also the lifeline of the party,' Mr Ouyang said.

'While expanding democracy within the party, we must uphold the unity of the party and we must ensure that all its decisions and resolutions are carried out effectively.'