Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, October 09, 2017

Electing the Standing Committee

The Communist Party of China trumpets the elections that choose its leaders. How would you classify these elections?

Communist Party congress: How China picks its leaders
Every five years, the eyes of the world turn to China as the ruling Communist Party holds its congress.

The event determines who will lead the Party. Those people will go on to lead the 1.3 billion people of China - most of whom don't get a say…

The 19th congress will begin on 18 October and while significant leadership changes are expected current Party leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping is widely expected to stay in the top job.

In mid-October, Communist Party of China (CPC) delegates from across China will meet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The party has 2,300 delegates…

Behind closed doors, those CPC delegates will elect the powerful Central Committee, which has about 200 members.

This committee in turn elects the Politburo and from that, the Politburo Standing Committee is chosen.

Introduction of the Standing Committee
Those are China's real decision-making bodies. The Politburo currently has 24 members, while the Standing Committee has seven, although these numbers have varied over the years.

While there is a vote, in reality many of these people have already been handpicked by the current leadership, and the committee just approves their edict.

The Central Committee also elects the Party's top leader - the general secretary - who becomes the country's president. That is, and will most likely continue to be, Xi Jinping.

The 19th Congress will be closely watched for two main things.

First, Mr Xi will deliver a lengthy report that will be scrutinised by analysts for signs on China's political policy direction for the next five years.

Secondly, the Politburo Standing Committee is expected to be nearly completely refreshed…

We would normally expect to see a new line-up of future leaders presented to the public at the congress - including a possible eventual successor to Mr Xi - who would take over in five years' time.

However, there is some speculation Mr Xi might break with tradition this time round and delay this step…

It's likely there'll be a further overall consolidation of power by Mr Xi.

He has assumed an unprecedented number of positions since coming to power in 2012, including the title of a "core" leader of China, which puts him on par with past political giants like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

There are likely to be more of his allies placed in leadership positions at the congress, and we may see the enshrining of his policies, known as "Xi Jinping Thought", in the party charter…

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