On November 6 or 7, two American men in suits will appear on television. Even with the sound off you will be able to tell, by the expression on their faces, which of them has been elected president and which has not. And, on an unspecified date between now and the end of the year, an unspecified number of Chinese men in dark matching suits will applaud themselves on to the stage of the Great Hall of the People. From the order in which they appear, experienced onlookers will be able to tell who is president, who is premier and who has which of the other jobs on the Politburo’s standing committee, China’s pre-eminent ruling body. My colleague Richard McGregor, in his enthralling book The Party , says the spectacle provides “something rare in modern China, a live and public moment of genuine political drama”.
If the Communist party keeps to its present 10-year cycle (and manages to hold on to power), the next time the two most powerful countries in the world elect their leaders at roughly the same time will be in 2032. This year, then, will witness the psephologist’s equivalent of a total solar eclipse. In the US, we know practically everything there is to know about the candidates, if you leave aside Mitt Romney’s missing tax returns. In China, we know almost nothing substantive about them, save that Bo Xilai need not apply.
This week the Communist party picked the 2,270 delegates who will attend the 18th party congress at which the new standing committee members will be anointed. Party officials sought to present the process as the most “democratic” in its history. It emphasised the humble origins of some of the delegates, who include miners, factory workers, bus drivers and 22-year-old Jiao Liuyang, who won the 200m women’s butterfly gold medal at the London Olympics. The official China Daily newspaper pointed out triumphantly that the selection entailed “an unprecedented choice, with every 100 delegates elected from a field of more than 115 candidates”. In Communist party terms, this evidently counted as near-anarchy.
Full Article: China’s very different election show – FT.com.