Manchurian premierial election, 1990

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Manchurian premierial election, 1990

← 1983 27th January 1990 1996 →
Turnout 71.6%

  Jin Pai Nai election .jpg Li Shaozheng.jpg
Nominee Du Changhao Yuan Xiang
Party Popular Front Communist Party
Running mate Sun Panmin Li Taiyang
Popular vote 21,415,012 12,861,825
Percentage 60.8% 36.5%

Yellow indicates provinces where Du gained a majority/plurality of votes; red provinces where Yuan gained a majority/plurality of votes

The Manchurian premierial election, 1990 was held on the 27th January 1990. It was the second premierial election to be held directly and the first to allow multi-party candidates. Previously Manchuria had been a single party socialist state with power monopolised in the hands of the Communist Party of Manchuria. In the summer of 1989 in response to discontent in the Eastern Bloc protests were held around Manchuria against communist rule setting off the Orchid Revolution. The unrest culminated with the First Secretary of the CPM Tao Shiyou being ousted by the Premier Yuan Xiang as leader of the CPM who called for elections in January.

The main opposition candidate was Du Changhao, the former party secretary for Dalian (Manchuria's southern-most city) and leader of the dissident group the Popular Front for Democracy and Revolution which he had formed following the start of the revolution. The Popular Front agreed to become an electoral coalition with CPM members who had split to form the Social Democratic Party, the largest dissident party the Manzuxiehui, Du's own party the Minzhudang and several independents affiliated with the Popular Front with Du Changhao as their candidate. The CPM meanwhile were facing an internal collapse as the party factions fought amongst themselves - some hoped to reform the communist system whilst other sought to preserve it. The incumbent premier Yuan Xiang was recognised as the only man with the complete confidence of the politburo and as such was nominated by the CPM.

The rushed nature of the election meant that very few candidates gained enough signatures to register as candidates, with the CPM and the Popular Front mobilising their membership bases to enter the race. As such whilst there were third party independent candidates did run the election was essentially a two horse race between the CPM and the Popular Front.

The election was marred by violence at poll stations as protests had not yet subsided. When the poll numbers were announced it was clear that Du had gained a decisive victory. The co-current legislative election saw the CPM swept out of power after 44 years of single-party rule leading to the dissolution of the Manchu People's Republic and the adoption of Manchuria's current constitution. It is commonly regarded as the first genuinely democratic election in Manchuria.

Electoral process[edit | edit source]

File:Image update 6b34c5abe98939d9 1341612017 9j-4aaqsk.jpeg
Tao Shiyou was the first premier to be elected directly, although it was in a show election.
Previously the Premier of Manchuria (officially known as the Premier of the National Democratic Council of the Manchu People's Republic) was elected in non-renewable ten year terms by the Supreme People's National Assembly which served as the legislative branch of the Manchu government. The Premier officially appointed the 24 member National Democratic Council, the executive government. In practice the Premier and the National Democratic Council were both ceremonial bodies with the CPM exercising real power.

In 1983 the General Secretary of the CPM Tao Shiyou ordered for a direct election to be held for the Premier where he received 99% of the vote. In the 1983 premierial election a first past the post system was used with the candidate with a plurality or majority of the vote won the election.. When elections were announced there was debate within the CPM on whether to use a two-round or first past the post system. Eventually on December 3rd 1989 when campaigning started it was announced the premier would be elected using a FPTP system.

Background[edit | edit source]

Since 1946 Manchuria had been governed by the Communist Party of Manchuria who had established a single party socialist dictatorship. Since 1954 following the end of the Korean War Manchuria had been dominated by the Black River Protocol, a set of policies that led to widespread repression and inter-party factionalism. Manchuria entered periods of economic growth and contraction whilst state sanctioned repression was widespread. In 1980 a reformist Tao Shiyou came to power within Manchuria, launching his New Communism policy and marginalising hardline Stalinists. As he rule extended and Tao came under pressure to enforce perestroika and glasnot-esque policies by Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev resulting in him alienating reformists. This saw increasing polarisation within the party as reformists and hardliners such as Qing Hongshu coming to frequent blows with Tao.

Following Tao repudiation of perestroika in 1986 a new faction emerged within the party. Nicknamed the "radical revisionists" they called for Manchuria to become a multi-party democracy within a socialist framework. The radical revisionist were centred in the Liaoning Autonomous Region where the party secretary of Dalian Du Changhao experimented with economic reforms and local municipal elections much to the ire of the central government in Harbin. In the summer of 1989 follow the Polish legislative election massive protests erupted around Manchuria calling for democratic elections to be held in Manchuria. The protests started in Dalian, with Du publicly voicing his support for them. Du formed the Popular Front for Democracy and Revolution, a collection of dissident groups including labour unions, students and other opponents of the regime. The Manchu government-in-exile, led by the Manzuxiehui, agreed to merge into the Popular Front. Protests continued to mount and intensified after student Wang Ximing was shot by the authorities.

The government was split over how it should respond to the protests. When Tao tried to crack down on the protesters large portions of the party split to form the Social Democratic Party. Tao lost the confidence of the politburo as he was demoted in favour of the Premier Yuan Xiang. Yuan announced elections would be held in January for the Supreme People's National Assembly and for the Premier. The SDP agreed to merge into the Popular Front, which was reformed into a political alliance between the SDP and the Manzuxiehui. Du then formed the Minzhudang (Democratic Party) which also became a member of the Popular Front.

Candidates[edit | edit source]

Popular Front[edit | edit source]

The Popular Front was the main anti-communist group in Manchuria, and was led by Du Changhao. Du had formally been the party secretary for Dalian, a port city on the Liaodong Peninsula where New Communism had been most successfully implemented. Under Du investment was poured into light industry and tourism, with certain economic sectors open for limited private investment amongst local Manchurians. This resulted in a rapid rise in the standard of living in the city as local municipal bureaucrats were sacked as part of an anti-bureaucratisation campaign. This gave rise to the so-called "Dalian model" which represented the pace of reform under New Communism. Du was dubbed as a "radical revisionist" by hardliners within the party, but the economic growth of the Dalian model saw many interested in the reforms. Following Tao's ousting some of the reforms were scaled back, but Du remained popular with a reputation of being a party rebel.

When protests broke out in Dalian Du ordered the authorities to tolerate them, and publicly voiced his support for them. In a meeting with dissident student and labour unions Du formally created the Popular Front for Democracy and Revolution which intended to represent dissident groups in Manchuria. As such when the Popular Front became a larger coalition of political parties they unanimously elected Du as their premierial candidate. Du picked former dissident Sun Panmin to be his vice-premerial candidate.

Communist Party of Manchuria[edit | edit source]

The Communist Party was extremely divided following the start of the Orchid Revolution. Senior members in the politburo such as Bao Yuzhang were hard Stalinists who did not want to give any compromise to the protesters, whilst Qing Hongshu wanted not only elections to be held but for the party to reform. In December as the CPM struggled to come to a consensus as the politburo risked to split over the issue. Eventually Bao turned on Tao and alongside the other members of the politburo voted for the Premier Yuan Xiang to replace Tao as the First Secretary. Yuan was seen as a stabilising figure in the party allying neither with the conservative or liberal factions of the party.

Other parties[edit | edit source]

When Du Changhao announced his candidacy for Premier he appealed to other opposition movements to not nominate their own candidates, and to endorse him so the communists would not get in power. This resulted in the Manzuxiehui, Social Democrats, and United People's Party to support Du's candidacy. The Azure Dragon Society supported neither Yuan or Du, instead nominating their own candidate Wang Shenfu.

Campaign[edit | edit source]

The election campaign was started on the 3rd December was dominated by the ongoing protests against communist rule. Due to the rushed nature of the election there was little time to effectively organise debates. The CPM had an easy time projecting their image thanks to their control of the media which they used to their advantage. To raise his personal profile Du travelled around Manchuria on a private helicopter, often flying to huge rallies of his supporters. It is alleged that Du was only able to finance his campaign through funding from the United States.

A constant problem for the CPM was the uninspiring personality of Yuan. Yuan whilst a popular leader within the CPM was nonetheless a dull figure to the general public. His connections with the secret police and the regime in general meant that many saw him as a symbol for the stagnant and repressive regime. In contrast Du was a highly charismatic speaker who tapped into populist sentiments, with his campaign focussed around promises to end the repressive regime as well as improve the economic situation in Manchuria.

The ongoing protests resulted in both campaigns being constantly disrupted. On the 13th December Du was evacuated from a rally after riots broke out. Yuan was forced to travel around in a bullet proof vest to protect him after a protester tried to shot him on the 2nd January 1990. After Yuan's attempted assassination Du called on the protesters to cease using violence.

Results[edit | edit source]

Manchurian premierial election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
  1. 8F00FF; width: 5px;" |
Popular Front Popular Front logo.png Du Changhao 21,415,012 60.8
  1. FF0000; width: 5px;" |
[[Communist Party of Manchuria|Template:Communist Party of Manchuria/meta/shortname]] CPM logo .png Yuan Xiang 12,861,825 36.5
style="background-color: Template:Qinglonghui/meta/color; width: 5px;" | [[Qinglonghui|Template:Qinglonghui/meta/shortname]] Freedpm flag.png Wang Shenfu 535,118 1.5
Turnout 35,198,297 71.6

There were 386,342 spoilt ballots.

Reactions[edit | edit source]

Domestic[edit | edit source]

  • File:Flag of Manchuria.png Popular Front - Du Changhao hailed the results as a "victory for democracy" and promised to set Manchuria on an "Auspicious Path to Progress". Du thanked all supporters who had voted against the communists, and praised Yuan Xiang for ensuring a smooth handover of power.
  • MCP.png Communist Party of Manchuria - Yuan Xiang accepted the results as being the legitimate expression of the Manchurian people. When conservatives within the party attempted to stage a last minute coup Yuan had them arrested in an executive order - the last to be signed by the communist government.

International[edit | edit source]