Xi Jinping has secured a precedent-breaking third five-year term as China’s president, a largely ceremonial role, putting him on track to remain in power for the rest of his life.
The nearly 3,000 members of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s largely ceremonial parliament, voted unanimously for Xi after the constitution was changed to remove the traditional two-term limit for the post.
whose members are appointed by the ruling Communist party, cast 2,952 votes for Xi over about an hour. No one voted against him.
No candidate lists were distributed, and Xi as well as those who secured other posts were believed to have run unopposed. The election process remains almost entirely shrouded in secrecy, apart from the process by which delegates to the congress placed four ballots into bright red boxes placed around the vast auditorium of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing where they meet.
Xi, was also unanimously named commander of the two million-member People’s Liberation Army.
“China’s politics has extended into the era of winner takes all,” Wen-Ti Sung, an expert in Chinese politics at the Australian National University, told Al Jazeera. “Xi Jinping is the biggest winner.”
Since taking power in 2012, 69-year-old Xi has sidelined any potential challengers and filled the party with his supporters, turning himself into China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
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He had himself named for a third five-year term as party general secretary in October, breaking with a tradition under which Chinese leaders handed over power once a decade.
Over the next two days, Xi-approved officials are set to be appointed or elected to fill top positions in the cabinet, including Li Qiang, who is expected to be named as premier – China’s No 2 post – putting him in charge of managing the world’s second largest economy.
Li was pictured shaking hands with Xi and smiling after the was confirmed as president. The two men, seated next to each other, also chatted casually as the voting process was underway.