Image credit: @futundbeidl.
A tiny amount of light has been shined on the otherwise opaque process by which the Communist Party of China (CPC) picks its leaders. Xinhua has revealed that a straw poll was held for the first time in May to decide on the membership of the Politburo Standing Committee.
The party, which has held power since 1949, has flirted with what it calls intra-party democracy as it strives to maintain its legitimacy in the face of widespread corruption, growing social unrest and rising inequality, even as the world’s second biggest economy bounds ahead.
The party held a meeting of leading cadres in Beijing in May and “democratically recommended” members of the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee and the 25-seat Politburo, state news agency Xinhua said late on Thursday, hours after new line-ups for both councils were unveiled.
Such a poll hardly signals a desire for democratic political reforms, but it suggests that the party is trying to increase accountability and subjecting its members to more checks and balances.
While previous leaderships have been ostensibly ‘chosen’ by a voting process, the ‘vote’ was typically pointless as “the number of candidates was the same as the number of seats in ballots for Politburo and Standing Committee members.”
Both Xi Jinping and his predecessor, Hu Jintao, were reportedly keen to expand internal Party democracy in order to increase the legitimacy of the leadership in the eyes of the public. It remains to be seen whether Xi will continue to expand the say that Party members’ have in the make-up of the leadership during his tenure.