On May 12th and September 17th, 1998, the Party committee of Central District, Suining made resolutions respectively on competitive elections for township mayors at Baoshi and Hengshan, and for township Party secretaries at Dongchan and Lianhua. Within the second half of the year, Central District successfully implemented competitive elections, and thereby initiated the new institution of electing township mayors and Party secretaries.
This project increased transparency and competition in promoting cadres. It also increased the participation of people and ordinary cadres in the appointments of leading cadres. The basic procedure of the election was: (i) registration of competitors opened to the public; (ii) examination of all registrants; (iii) speeches and defense of ideas by the top six candidates in the exam in front of a group of electors consisting of about 20 leading cadres from Central District, around 100 cadres at the specific township and the villages under that township, and about 100 representatives of the peasants; (iv) voting (secret ballots, one ballot each elector, ballots counted and results announced on the spot); (v) appointment of the winners to their specific posts.
This project attracted the participation of many people. For the two competitive elections for township Party secretaries, 99 people registered as competitors. For the two competitive elections for township mayors, 175 people registered as competitors.
This initiative increased the transparency of appointing cadres and therefore reduced corruption. Secondly, it provided effective and realistic new channels of participation, and improved the relationship between the cadres and the peasants; thirdly, it provided an incentive for cadres to work hard and be concerned about the peasants.
This initiative on the one hand greatly improves the current elections at the township level, and on the other hand fits the current regulations. Therefore, many other counties in Sichuan province came to Suining Central District to study this new practice. The provincial Party committee of Sichuan issued a directive requiring every county select one third of its townships to practice this new institution at the end of this year when the new round of elections for governments at the township level are to be carried out.