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East China city tries direct grassroots election
Updated: 2009-09-13 09:01

NANJING: The new Party chief had never expected that the election could be so challenging, although it was just of the most basic level--neighborhood.

"My psychology changed a lot through the election," said 42-year-old Chen Ming.

"With the trust of so many people, I have great pressure. I must fulfill what I promised during the election."

In 2009, direct election was carried out in the Communist Party committees of 363 neighborhoods in Nanjing, capital city of east China's Jiangsu Province. Almost half of the population in Nanjing was encompassed in the neighborhoods.

Candidates were produced in three ways: self-recommendation, recommendation by their fellow Party members or by the committee.

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After the nomination, Chen Ming and 36-year-old Zhao Zhicun stood in front of voters.

Before vote, the two candidates paid visits to residents and had discussions with them so as to learn about their need.

On the voting day, voters could throw questions to the candidates after their speeches, such as how to look after the left-behind elderly people and how to tackle the bicycle theft in the neighborhood.

During the 40 minutes, Chen and Zhao debated over the issues, before voters cast their ballot into a box.

The ballot counting was done in front of the voters, and the result was written on a blackboard.

Zhao won 45 votes, while Chen had 147.

Hui Yuchun has been a Party member for more than 60 years. He said it was the first time he saw such election.

"In the past, I just drew a circle on the paper, not caring much who would be elected," he said.

He noted that he saw two exciting moments during the election -- the debate and counting of the ballots.

"We could decide the winner, that's why we cherish our voting right," he said.

According to survey by the organization department of the Nanjing municipal committee of the Communist Party, more than 90 percent of the Party members in the neighborhoods cast their ballots.

Among the voters, there were elderly people on wheelchairs and businessmen who asked for leave from their companies. Many had discussion with their family members before making their choice.

After winning the election, Chen Ming said that he was greatly impressed.

"In the past, I was passive in the work. The work was assigned by the superiors and only for them was I responsible," he said.

But this time, he said was elected by ordinary people. "I shouldn't let them down."

While Zhao Zhicun believed that the reason why he lost was lack of experience and dissatisfactory performance in the debate.

"I will improve myself," he said. "I will take part in the election next time."

"The goal of direct election is to improve intra-Party democracy," said Yang Xuezhong, director of the organization department of the Baixia district Party committee in Nanjing.

He noted that Party committees in neighborhoods are at the grassroots level. "If Party committees at that level are strengthened, the Communist Party would gain more support," he said.

"Party members are the masters of the Party's power," said Cai Xia, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.

"They should have the right to give and revoke power of the leaders, so as to let them know who should they be responsible for."

Nanjing is the pioneering city of intro-Party democracy, with direct election one of the forms.

In 2004, direct election was carried out in one neighborhood in Nanjing.

"Now it is time to introduce the measure to more places," said Wang Qi, head of the organization department of the Nanjing Municipal Party committee.