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Direct elections bring people to polls in E China

05-20-2010 09:01 BJT

BEIJING, May 19 -- Besides routine farm work, residents in the 806 villages of Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province, are busy electing their new leaders.

At the election site of Houchong village, Yongning town, many of the 200 Party members and villager representatives arrived on Tuesday with mud still on their shoes, fresh from their work on the farm.

On the stage, five candidates delivered speeches and answered questions with passion and patience, trying to convince the audience to elect him or her to be the new Party secretary, the top official of the village.

The candidates included the current Party secretary of Houchong, township government officials and college graduates.

In the end, Chen Jiagui, the current Party secretary of Houchong, Chen Jian, an official from the Yongning town, and Liu Zhaobin, a college graduate, received the most votes.

They will be entered into the next run of competition. The other two with the lowest votes were eliminated.

Voters will also elect the deputy Party secretary and other members of the village Party committee.

Similar scenes are happening in 806 villages in 11 districts and counties of Nanjing, involving 2.7 million residents.

The new village leaders are expected to take office in June, all through public recommendations and direct elections, according to a report from the Nanjing-based Yangtze Evening News.

"In the past, the Party secretary of a village was usually appointed by the upper government, but now is directly elected by villagers," said Chen Jiagui, current Party secretary of Houchong, who has been in the position for 12 years.

"It is my first time to take part in such a direct election. I feel under great pressure but I'm confident," Chen added.

For the voters, electing the Party secretary is like "selecting products they favor in the supermarket", said Chen Jian, a township government official, who was sent by Yongning to take part in the election of Houchong. "We candidates stand on the stage for them to compare and choose."

In July last year, 363 urban residential communities in Nanjing elected their new Party secretaries through public recommendation and direct election.

"The Party secretaries elected last year in urban communities have done a good job in helping residents resolve problems in daily life, such as repairing street lights, roads and cesspools," said Ren Jialong, an official with the organization department of Nanjing city committee of the Communist Party of China.

"Based on the successful experiences during the past year, we decided to expand the policy to rural areas."

Nanjing has become the first city in the country to introduce direct elections in all its rural villages and urban communities, Ren said.

"The chief task for the new village secretaries being elected is to develop rural economy and raise the incomes of villagers," Ren said.

(Source: China Daily)

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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