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People's Daily Online>>China Politics

More balanced ballots (3)

By Xuyang Jingjing (Global Times)

08:40, November 29, 2011

Informing voters

Her promises ranged from increasing students' living allowance, installing better sports equipment on campus, increasing the number of toilets for women, fighting corruption and protecting migrant workers' rights.

Zhang said her campaign was more about participating in the democratic election process and less about actually trying to win an election.

"More than 3,000 people chose to support me, and others who didn't wrote posts online giving their reasons why," said Zhang. "I think that's what we need, rational thinking about our votes."

For many young students it was the first time they were eligible to vote in an election. While some remain disinterested, others grew to understand that their votes could make a difference.

"Like many of my classmates I didn't think my vote mattered," said an English major at Beijing Foreign Studies University surnamed Sun. She recalled the last election cycle five years ago when someone came to her home with a list of names and asked her parents to pick three. "We had no idea who these people were, my parents just decided by the nice sound of their names," recalled Sun, 20.

Sun's account is familiar to many Chinese voters who are not clear how people's representatives are elected or who the candidates are.

Western-style election campaigning, including public rallies and candidates debates are virtually nonexistent in grassroots elections in China.

Prior to election day a brief introduction of the official candidates is usually posted on local bulletin boards. The notices are mostly a candidate's condensed resume chronicling the person's professional titles. Candidates sometimes host meetings with a small group of constituents prior to the election.

In November Sun and some of her classmates decided to take the election process more seriously and came together to help Wu Qing, a former English professor at the school, get reelected.

Wu Qing, 74, was hoping to be elected for a sixth term to the Haidian district people's congress. She also served three times on Beijing's People's Congress. Only twice was she nominated by the school administration. Her other election wins came after she was nominated by more than 10 constituents.

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