China leadership

Party's internal poll to pick top leaders confirmed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 4:18am

Senior members of the Communist Party held an internal poll in May to select their favoured top leaders, Xinhua confirmed.

"The party's Central Committee held a meeting of leading party cadres in Beijing in May and 'democratically recommended' members of the Politburo and its Standing Committee," state-run Xinhua said yesterday, a day after the new seven-man Politburo Standing Committee and wider 25-member Politburo were unveiled.

It is the first time the ruling party has given the public a glance into the opaque backroom selection of the country's top leaders, and confirmed two South China Morning Post reports in June and August.

Xinhua said "democratic recommendation" was the reason behind this week's smooth transfer of power, even though many believe that behind-the-scenes horse-trading also played a crucial role.

"It [the poll] guaranteed the smooth production of a collective leadership, which is strong and united, and reflects the will of the whole party and is accepted by people inside and outside the party," Xinhua said.

Though it did not give any details of the "democratic recommendation", party insiders said it referred to an unprecedented internal poll of 370 members and alternate members of the previous Central Committee, which stood down on Wednesday.

Analysts said the ballot may not have been decisive in determining the exact leadership line-up, but its results would have had an important bearing on the selection of the top leaders.

Political commentator Hu Xingdou, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said he believed that approval ratings would have played a role in factional bargaining.

Xinhua said the Central Committee recommended candidates based on "such democratic recommendation" to party meetings held this week. The party's 18th national congress, which ended on Wednesday, elected a new 205-member Central Committee and 171 alternate members. The new Central Committee held its first meeting on Thursday to appoint the new leadership line-up.

Analysts said that while such internal polling did not signal any desire for Western-style democratic reforms, it suggested the party was relying on consensus-building to sort out policy differences and deal with friction.