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Competitive elections in China?

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James Reynolds | 09:14 UK time, Monday, 9 March 2009

One central question often dominates discussions of China's future: will this country ever become an electoral democracy - with rival parties fighting for power at the ballot box?

The answer from the number two man in the Communist Party is simple: No.

In his speech to the annual session of the National People's Congress, Wu Bangguo said that China would "never simply copy the system of Western countries or introduce a system of multiple parties holding office in rotation".

Top: 09/03/2009 Wu Bangguo at National People's Congress AP; Bottom: 28/01/2009 Wen Jiabao in Davos AFP/Getty ImagesA definitive statement then. No wiggle room whatsoever.

But other leaders have left the door ajar. In a television interview a few months ago, China's Premier Wen Jiabao was asked whether or not he could foresee competitive elections in China in 25 years' time. "It's hard for me to predict," he replied.

But now, the man who outranks Mr Wen in the Communist hierarchy has made it clear: no competitive elections in China. Ever. So long, of course, as the Communist Party remains in charge.


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