A Standing Committee meeting of the National People's Congress. [File Photo: Baidu]
China's top legislature on Tuesday confirmed the disqualification of 45 deputies from Liaoning Province for electoral fraud.
A National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee session on Tuesday voted to unseat the 45 NPC deputies, who were elected from the Liaoning Provincial People's Congress, for vote buying and bribery during the 2013 election.
Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, presided over the meeting.
A report by the NPC credentials committee said it believes that acts by the 45 deputies violated electoral law and thus their election should be nullified by the NPC Standing Committee.
The report was given by Ma Wen, head of the NPC credentials committee.
Lawmakers also voted to adopt a decision to set up a preparatory panel to prepare for a new session of the Liaoning provincial legislature.
A total of 523 deputies to the Liaoning Provincial People's Congress were implicated in the election fraud and have now either resigned or had their qualification as deputies terminated.
Given that among the 62 members of the Standing Committee of the Liaoning Provincial People's Congress, 38 have been disqualified and ceased to serve on the standing committee, the standing committee is now unable to convene to perform its duties.
The situation warrants a creative institutional arrangement in accordance with the constitution and relevant laws. The preparatory panel will be formed to exercise some of the standing committee's functions and powers.
Lawmakers at Tuesday's session agreed that the arrangement is "necessary and feasible" and that it respects the spirit of the constitution and principles of the law.
Zhang said the Liaoning electoral fraud challenged the bottom line of the Chinese political system, and that a zero-tolerance approach would be taken toward any offences in elections.
He said the electoral bribery in Liaoning was the first of its kind to take place at the provincial level since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, which seriously violated the Party's discipline, state laws and rules.
Thoroughly investigating and dealing with the Liaoning electoral bribery in accordance with the law shows a clear attitude and firm determination to comprehensively implement the rule of law and strengthen the discipline of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the general secretary, Zhang said.
The move safeguarded the authority and dignity of the people's congress system and the socialist rule of law, Zhang said, adding the electoral fraud exposed weak law enforcement by the election-organizing institutions and responsible persons, as they turned a blind eye to foul play.
In some exceptional cases, the standing committee of a superior legislature can make decisions to set up a preparatory panel to exercise some functions and powers of a local legislature, said Li Jianguo, vice chairman of the NPC Standing Committee.
Similar arrangements were also used when dealing with an electoral fraud case in Hunan Province in 2013, Li said.
Li said the proposal to set up a preparatory panel for the Liaoning case has been approved by the CPC Central Committee and agreed on at a previous NPC Standing Committee chairpersons' meeting.
According to Li, the preparatory panel will be responsible for putting the termination of Liaoning local legislators' qualification on record and making the records public. It will also work to confirm the qualification or nullify the election of local legislators elected in the by-election according to reports by the relevant credentials committee.
It will be responsible for the convening of the seventh session of the 12th Liaoning Provincial People's Congress.
A credentials committee reporting to the panel will be set up to deal with some procedural issues.
A statement issued after Tuesday's session published the names of the 45 disqualified deputies. According to the statement, the 12th NPC currently now has 2,894 deputies. ( The purpose of Tuesday's session is to "implement decisions of the CPC Central Committee regarding electoral fraud in Liaoning, and fulfill the duties of the NPC Standing Committee," according to a previous NPC Standing Committee chairpersons' meeting.
The NPC Standing Committee usually convenes every two months, but can be provisionally convened when there is a particular demand.