China Leaders Mull Intra-Party Democratic Reform: Reuters

Chinese president Hu Jintao and his heir-apparent Xi Jinping have proposed that candidates should outnumber available seats in elections for the elite Politburo this week, Reuters said, citing three unidentified people.

The Politburo, which now has 24 members, is the second-highest level of power in China from which the highest decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, is chosen. Members of the Politburo are elected by about 200 members of the Central Committee which is in turn chosen by more than 2,000 delegates at the 18th Communist Party Congress, which opens in Beijing on Nov. 8.

Under Hu and Xi’s proposal, there would be as many as 20 percent more candidates than Politburo seats, according to the Reuters report yesterday. It was unclear if competitive voting would also be extended to the Standing Committee, the news agency reported.

Elections for the most senior members of the party, held every five years, have previously been mainly rubber-stamp formalities, vetting choices agreed on ahead of time by party power-brokers.

Xi, currently the vice president, is almost certain to become the party general secretary at the congress and then the nation’s president in March. Li Keqiang, now a vice premier, is expected to take over from Wen Jiabao as premier. The exact lineup of the Politburo Standing Committee that rules the party, and therefore the country, won’t be known before the end of the party congress.

Hu wants expanded intra-party democracy as a legacy and the change would also help Xi’s image, Reuters said, citing an unidentified person. Xi, 59 may face economic growth of 7 percent in 2013, the slowest in 23 years, according to Pacific Investment Management Co., which runs the world’s largest bond fund.

-Michael Wei. Editors: Joshua Fellman

— With assistance by Michael Wei

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