Wang Yang

Shenzhen vote a tentative first step

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2008, 12:00am


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Shenzhen's bold plans for democracy within the Communist Party got off to a tentative start yesterday with elections for its profitable land and housing bureau.

The plans to expand democracy among Shenzhen's party members, announced a month ago, aim to again place the city at the forefront of national reform.

About 470 party members from the bureau selected a union secretary and committee and disciplinary body members in a secret ballot broadcast live on a closed-circuit government system. Thousands of public servants were allowed to watch it.

Seventeen candidates nominated by party members competed for 12 seats, giving speeches and taking part in question-and-answer sessions.

'[The purpose of the election] was to further liberate thought, broaden internal party democracy and improve the intraparty election system,' the bureau said in a notice.

Unlike party committee members, who have decision-making powers, the elected union secretary has limited influence on how policy is made or administered.

Bureau sources said it was unlikely that a similar election would be held for party committee positions in the foreseeable future.

Analysts said the election showed that the reforms touted a month ago would be carried out cautiously and under strict party control because Guangdong party chief Wang Yang had made it clear the city would not set out to become a 'special political zone'.

Wang Yukai , a public administration expert from Peking University, said earlier the public should be patient as the party sought stable and controllable political reforms.

'It's the characteristic of Chinese-style reforms ... Intraparty democracy reforms are easier to control, and that's where Shenzhen started,' Professor Wang said.

The Shenzhen party committee had said the city was considering giving lawmakers the right to elect the mayor 'when conditions are ripe'.