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People's Daily Online>>China Politics

More balanced ballots (2)

By Xuyang Jingjing (Global Times)

08:40, November 29, 2011

A growing constituency

Even though they all ran into obstacles while attempting to get their message out, the thousands of votes they garnered also shows that independent candidate represent a growing constituency.

Beijing's colleges and universities were again a major testing ground of China's so-called "grassroots" election process, which is basically the only time ordinary residents cast votes to elect their representatives to county or district people's congresses.

Zhang was running to become one of the 420 representatives elected to the Haidian District's People's Congress. At this level an elected people's representative is not paid and they meet as a whole only every six months or so. Some of the reps will also be elected to committees that meet more often. The members of the Haidian People's Congress will then elect 100 among them to become representatives to the municipal people's congress.

Haidian district is home to numerous universities where students and teachers sought to become independent candidates without being nominated by the Party or a local organization such as a university's administration. Candidates to local people's congresses can also attempt to win a nomination by being endorsed by 10 eligible voters. Such an endorsement will at least get them considered to be an official candidate by an electoral committee and possibly get their names on the ballot.

At the Beijing Foreign Studies University, 20 people sought to have their name added to the ballot which in the end contained only two names.

It wasn't the first time independent candidates sought to be elected to their local people's congresses, but the attention they received this year seems unprecedented.

While many independents like Zhang didn't get their names on the ballot, some attempted to mount campaigns as write-in candidates.

Beginning in October, Zhang and some friends started handing out fliers and putting up posters around campus. She used her blog on a social networking website for students to explain her reasons for running and her intentions if elected.

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