According to Wikipedia, the National People's Congress (NPC) elects the General Secretary of the Party. This member is elected from among the members of the Politburo standing committee. This structure is what I could discern from reading:

Get elected to NPC ---> Politburo ---> Politburo Standing Committee ---> General Secretary

I understand how someone might be able to convince people to get elected to the NPC but, after that, I am a bit confused. There are almost 3000 members in the NPC and almost all of them vote for the same member. This indicates that each vote is not equal and that the vote of some members influences the vote of others. So how does someone become essential enough to be elected as the general secretary? Maybe a better way to phrase it would be: how does someone "whip" votes in their favor?

Also, how does the secretary maintain their power?

1 Answer 1


Looking at some past NPC elections, the answer seems to be simple: there is only one candidate for each position. (At least in 2008 that was the case.) You can vote against, but...

More interestingly in 2012 there were multiple candidates for some positions, but not for the one that Xi Jinping ran for. And interestingly enough, the votes for the VP position (for which there were multiple candidates) were extremely skewed: one candidate got 2800+ votes, the next one got 2. I don't know how they manage[d] to coordinate that bit. Actually, I do now: the others were write-ins, there was only one nominated candidate.

for example, five write-in candidates—including then Politburo Standing Committee member, Liu Yunshan—received a total of six votes. (The sole nominee, Li Yuanchao, won by a landslide, with 2,839 votes.)

As for

How are the nominees selected?

On paper, the Presidium is the nominator of all elected positions. As mentioned earlier, the Presidium is the presiding body of an NPC session. Its membership, approximately 170–190 strong, changes somewhat from year to year [...]

The Party’s vetting and selection of a new slate of state officials traditionally starts a year in advance, and runs in tandem with the Party’s preparation for its own twice-a-decade leadership transition (in the fall before a new NPC convenes). According to official accounts, the process generally entails multiple rounds of consultations with Party members serving at high-ranking positions as well as with major non-Party organizations, in addition to anti-corruption and political review of potential candidates and repeated discussions among Party leaders themselves.

So it's rather opaque clique system that decides the nominees. But ultimately

This process would culminate in a list of nominees approved first by the Politburo Standing Committee, and then by the full Politburo.

The PSC only has 7 seats, so essentially all the nominees are vetted by the small, topmost group of party leaders. Unless they disagree with each other, it's like selecting yourself to be the only [listed] candidate for an election.

  • Yeah, that's what I am confused about like what political maneuvering does one have to do in order to be that "one" candidate ? Like in Russia you have an Oligarchy as long as you do things that benefit the businesses and power of those people (the oligarchs) ur in power but here you have such a huge committee to maneuver around. I don't accept that someone can convince over 2000 people. Nov 19, 2023 at 19:51
  • @Leibniz'sAlien see update Nov 19, 2023 at 20:05
  • So just to clarify, it's like you have 7 friends in a room trying to decide who should not be in the friend group anymore. Essentially people who can somewhat "clump" together vote for each other and the person who can't get along is ousted. Does the general secretary have a say in this? Also the NPC observer site is pretty cool, thanks for sharing it. Nov 19, 2023 at 22:04
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    Nvm my previous comment, I just realized that the general secretary is part of the PSC. Also, I am assuming that to get selected to the PSC you probably need to be involved with at least 4 of the members. Nov 19, 2023 at 22:13
  • @Leibniz'sAlien: and actual power is probably a bit more concentrated than that. In 2017 a couple of the PSC were clearly technocrats with little political base themselves theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/25/… And the premier Li Keqiang was fairly discredited but kept along probably because of that--no real threat to Xi. Li was part of the old clique of Hu Jintao. Nov 19, 2023 at 22:23

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