The village of Wukan in China’s southern province of Guangdong on Wednesday held China’s first free election since the 1980s, in which more than 5,000 people went to the polls, the Financial Times reported. The election followed a series of protests in December in which villagers demanded the removal of a corrupt official. In a truce to end the protests, provincial officials promised the village an election to choose their own leaders. Since the 1980s, party officials have usually vetted candidates before village elections were held. Roughly 70% of the village’s registered voters turned out to elect 11 election committee officers from 25 candidates. However, it’s unclear whether the election’s victor will have the political capital necessary to make changes in the Chinese system. “I have seen many instances where people elected cannot get recognition from higher authorities,” said historian Zhang Lifan.