The Communist Party will discuss developing internal democracy and a new anti-corruption mechanism, such as requiring officials to publicise details of their personal assets, when its elite members meet next month, according to an official report. The top decision-making body, the Politburo, decided on Thursday to convene the Fourth Plenary Session of the 17th Central Committee in September in Beijing, to discuss topics on strengthening the party. The plenary session will discuss how to expand 'intra-party' democracy to strengthen internal checks and balances and improve the party's governance, said Outlook magazine, which is run by Xinhua. After the meeting the Politburo said the plenum would 'carefully sum up the party's invaluable experience of strengthening self-building since taking power, and analyse in depth the new situation and problems facing building the party'. A National Party Congress, which usually takes place every five years, generally elects a new Central Committee. Between congresses, that committee holds plenary sessions to make significant policies. A key report to the congress in October 2007 said the party would explore ways to expand internal democracy at the grass-roots level in an attempt to boost leadership accountability and transparency. Outlook said the upcoming plenum would discuss and endorse measures to apply that decision. It said several places had taken nominations for town leader and party secretary from party members and the general public and that direct elections by party members would take place on a trial basis. Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University, said the introduction of direct elections and other elements of democracy into the party's grass-roots organs would help improve the party's image and its rule. But he doubted it would significantly help wipe out rampant corruption among party officials or lead to the introduction of democracy to the common people. 'It is better than nothing, but one could not expect the party to introduce democracy to ordinary citizens any sooner to install any real checks and balances on power,' Professor Zhang said, adding that village direct elections had been in place for many years with little improvement in governance or a cleanup of corruption. Outlook said the plenum would also discuss institutional reforms to fight against corruption. The Central Committee and the central government had issued regulations - one in 1995 and one in 2001 - requiring officials to declare their income, but these were limited to officials' salaries and subsidies, and the information was not made available to the public or news media. Public calls for officials to declare their personal assets have been growing. Professor Zhang said this approach would help to curb corruption.