Reuters reports that members of the outgoing Chinese leadership are pushing for internal Communist Party reforms that will adopt a more democratic process by which the next generation of leaders will be chosen.
President Hu Jintao and his heir, Xi Jinping, have proposed that the party’s 18th Congress, which opens on Thursday, should hold elections for the elite Politburo where for the first time there would be more candidates than available seats, said three sources with ties to the party leadership.
The Politburo, currently 24 members, is the second-highest level of power in China from which the highest decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, is chosen.
They are chosen by the roughly 200 full members of the Central Committee which is in turn chosen by the more than 2,000 delegates at this week’s Congress.
Under their proposal, there would be up to 20 percent more candidates than seats in the new Politburo in an election to be held next week, the sources said. It was unclear if competitive voting would also be extended to the Standing Committee.
“Hu wants expanding intra-party democracy to be one of his legacies,” one source said, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions for discussing secretive elite politics.
The reforms do not propose anything like full democracy, but something along the lines of Hong Kong Executive Council elections, where voters would pick from an approved list of candidates to contest a small number of seats. CPC delegates technically ‘vote’ for Politburo members at the moment, but there are never more candidates than there are seats.
Sources said the Hu-Xi proposal would also significantly extend the competitiveness of elections to the party’s third tier, the Central Committee, a body of roughly 200 members where a very limited form of competitive voting already takes place.
At the last congress in 2007, there were 8 percent more candidates than seats for the Central Committee, up from 5 percent in 2002, according to Central Party School professor Gao Xinmin writing in the Study Times, a party mouthpiece.
Under the proposal, that could rise to up to 40 percent this time, the sources said.