This project was put into practice in 1998. In the process of electing Party secretaries at the village level, the first round of voting is done by Party members and non-Party member citizens, and the second round is done only by Party members.
The old practice of selecting Party secretaries at the village level was done by Party committees at the township level. This type of top-down appointment encouraged village Party secretaries to be accountable only to township authorities instead of to villagers, and therefore gave rise to enormous problems at the village level.
From 1998 on, the city authorities made the institutional innovation of electing village Party secretaries by two rounds of votes in 112 out of 551 villages under its jurisdiction. The election procedures were as follows. Firstly, candidates were nominated by the village Party committee, by the township Party committee, and by Party members themselves. Secondly, villagers (including non-Party members) voted for the candidates. Thirdly, the winner in the first round of voting was taken as the only formal candidate for the village Party secretary. Fourthly, Party members at that village voted for the candidate. The voting was by secret ballot. The results of the voting were announced on the spot. Also, candidates had to give speeches and defend their ideas before the voting.
"Two rounds of voting for village Party secretary" increased participation in the political process, broadened the support base for the Party leadership at the village level, reduced corruption in the process of appointing village Party secretaries, and increased transparency in terms of selecting cadres.
The average age of the newly elected village Party secretaries in these 112 villages was 2.7 years younger than previously. Seventy-two point three percent of the new Party secretaries had at least senior high school education. Eighty-five point six percent of them have one or two valuable agricultural skills. Therefore, they are more capable than former cadres of helping peasants increase their income and improve their lives.
Based on the success of this project, the city authorities decided to put it into practice in all the villages under its jurisdiction in the near future. Meanwhile, this project has attracted much attention by authorities in other places and at other levels. The newspapers China Society and Township Forum and China Central TV Channel 7 have introduced this project at Guangshui to the public all over China.