For China's Communist Party, biggest was just not big enough—the world's largest political party said today that it has grown even bigger, with the number of members passing 80 million people last year. Party membership in 2010 swelled to 80.27 million, an increase of more than 2 million from 2009, the party's deputy minister said at a news conference. The number of members is almost equal to Germany's population.
More than just an ideology, membership in the elite Communist Party also means getting ahead and gaining access to China's ruling class, often bringing perks such as health care and retirement benefits, as well as more attractive career opportunities. In 2010, 21 million people applied to join but only about 14% were accepted. About 24 million party members are farmers, more than 38% are women, and nearly a quarter are younger than 35.