Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Beijing's Attempt to Control Two Elections

An editorial cartoon about electoral fraud in Liaoning's NPC
An interesting story from China is the 45 Liaoning deputies from the National People's Congress sacked last month -- and now it's been revealed it's because the provincial legislature rejected Beijing-backed candidates in an election three years ago.

Sources say top Communist Party leaders were enraged when unprecedented, widespread vote rigging in the Liaoning Provincial People's Congress in 2013 saw candidates favoured by the Party leadership failed to win the election.

The NPC Standing Committee infuriated by Liaoning results
The scale of the scandal alarmed Beijing -- where the Party's preferred candidates lost out to ones backed by bribe-paying business chiefs. If it was not dealt with, the leadership says, then it would have threatened to undermine President Xi Jinping's plan for the Party's national congress next year, where a major reshuffle of senior positions is expected.

"A few candidates designated by the central authorities as deputies to the National People's Congress failed to get enough votes from Liaoning provincial legislators in early 2013," says a former Liaoning congress deputy.

The incident has infuriated top Party officials and resulted in an investigation into electoral fraud in the northeastern province.

Zhang says election fraud challenged China's political system
NPC chairman Zhang Dejiang, who is also a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, told a special meeting of the NPC Standing Committee last month the election fraud had "challenged China's socialist democratic politics" and touched the "bottom line" of the country's political system.

This scandal is not the first of its kind, though the first time since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 that dozens of NPC deputies have been sacked for election irregularities.

A mid-ranking official in the provincial capital of Shenyang said billionaires in Liaoning had been more than willing to spend big to secure NPC positions, which would then make it more difficult to launch investigations into their affairs and would gain them direct access to officials who could further their business interests.

Looks like it's game over for these billionaires...

It isn't clear how many candidates contested the 2013 NPC election or how many failed to win election, but apparently 3,000 deputies in the NPC were elected either by provincial-level people's congresses, or the People's Liberation Army, rather than by central authorities.

So think about it -- the province is corrupt with billionaires buying seats in the NPC, and even Beijing's efforts to control it by trying to elect its own endorsed people in is thwarted big time.

The solution? Beijing declares electoral fraud, when the Party itself is trying to have its own people voted in by its "socialist democracy".

It's very similar to Hong Kong's recent Legislative Council elections, but in this case, there was no electoral fraud, and while the pro-Beijing camp still has the majority in Legco, it lost three seats to localists, some of whom are advocating self-determination.

While it won't be hard for Beijing to rectify the problem in Liaoning by basically sacking everyone and starting over (by putting its own people in), Hong Kong is an entirely different kettle of fish.

Beijing must be racking its brains on how it can further exert its influence in the city. Stay tuned.

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