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People's Daily Online>>China Politics

More balanced ballots

By Xuyang Jingjing (Global Times)

08:37, November 29, 2011

Zhang Shiyu, a journalism major at Renmin University of China, has returned to her busy life as a senior, juggling an internship, classes and school papers. It's hard to imagine the soft-spoken 20-year-old, who, despite being a loser, was by far the most popular young woman on campus this fall. She even has the votes to prove it.

Zhang was one of thousands of people who ran for office in China's grassroots elections taking place this year around the country in which citizens vote for their local representatives.

Zhang was also one of a much smaller group of those running whose names were not on the ballot. She ran as an independent, write-in candidate, mounting a low-key but surprisingly effective campaign that helped her earn a high profile on campus.

Although she didn't come close to winning - Zhang received 3,186 votes or 16.7 percent of the constituency's 20,000 ballots - she says it was an invaluable experience that showed young people can make a difference and that the act of voting is important.

The Global Times followed several candidates who ran as write-in independents and lost. All of them shared two main experiences. They say even their losing campaigns were worthwhile because it showed China's political system gives people the right to participate in the election process and have their voices heard. They also say that nascent election campaigning, which is still not widely tolerated or practiced, is impossible to stop.

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