One of the Communist Party's most prominent new-generation stars tried yesterday to decode the hot political jargon of 'intraparty democracy', giving a glimpse of what is on the agenda for the world's biggest political organisation in the foreseeable future. In an article running to more than 7,000 characters, published in People's Daily, the party's chief mouthpiece, Li Yuanchao, sought to elaborate upon the opaque concept that President and party general secretary Hu Jintao promoted at the recent party congress. The somewhat contradictory title of Mr Li's article - Expanding Democracy and Strengthening Unity Within the Party - probably says a thing or two about the nature of''intraparty democracy', a concept that featured prominently in Mr Hu's 21/2-hour work report to the congress, and one that has been on the lips of the ruling party's 74 million members ever since, analysts say. 'Essentially, what Mr Hu sets out to do is to legitimise and strengthen a Communist Party that is increasingly challenged by unavoidable problems resulting from the framework of one-party rule,' said Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based political scientist. As Mr Li, the new party personnel chief, suggested, it is looking for viable checks and balances to curb official corruption, which has led to widespread discontent and rising protests across the mainland and is starting to threaten social stability. 'The party leadership has realised that it has to increase party transparency and limits on the authority of individual cadres to regain public support,' Professor Hu said. On the other hand, Mr Li, 57, who rose from the ranks of the Communist Youth League - President Hu's power base - to Politburo membership, took care to balance his interpretation of greater democracy within the party by stressing the need for 'solidarity and unity'. 'Democracy within the party is the lifeline of the party. Likewise, unity is also the lifeline of the party,' Mr Li wrote. 'While expanding democracy within the party, we must uphold the unity of the party and we must conscientiously abide by the party's political discipline, always be in agreement with the Central Committee and resolutely safeguard its authority to ensure that its resolutions and decisions are carried out effectively.' Edward Friedman, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said intraparty democracy had nothing to do with democracy as it was commonly understood in the rest of the world. 'It's a way to maintain the ruling party in power,' Professor Friedman said. 'What is in the head of the Chinese leadership is to make the ruling party technically efficient.' The next five years would see the Communist Party pledge more reforms to make it more accountable in the face of widespread corruption, while at the same time ensure those changes do not come at the expense of the party's grip on power. 'The party has absolutely no plans for any sort of political change. They're trying to institutionalise an authoritarian regime in its long-run continuity,' Professor Friedman said. Even the vows of greater democracy within the party sound a bit hollow, some analysts say. The nation's politics remains shrouded in secrecy, as evidenced by the 17th National Congress. The means by which the 204 members of the new Central Committee were elected was not made public, nor were the number of votes members received revealed. Professor Hu said intraparty democracy came across more as a way of improving the party's public image than a serious change on how it operates. 'I don't think the whole political platform of the so-called intraparty democracy has been launched in earnest, despite all the hype,' he said. 'The project is not yet up there among the work priorities. The party is as obsessed about stability and growth as ever. 'And the 'D' word still holds the connotation of chaos.'