This is how politics are played in most of the 'tongs' (parties/societies). Call yourself the 'great advocate' of democracy or change. People always want change because only with change can they can hope for the better. So they support you. You become famous and the capitalise on your fame to form a 'tong' or society.
Project a clean image asking for change and play on the sentiments of the people. Choose your inner circle - people who depends on you for business (kang dao [Hokkien for projects/positions]).
Make promises to other talented , gifted popular leaders on the ground. Promises that do not have to be fulfilled. They will bring in the support for you and the size of your 'tong' grows. But always make sure at every level of the 'tong' there are two or more camps and that they are always busy fighting each other.
As the top leader, you play divide and rule, dispense the goodies and control all the factions. When anyone asks you about the 'empty promises' you make, use the other camp to finish him off.
Send your spies either to infiltrate other groups or to talk bad about you in front of others. From the responses, you know who is not for you and who talks bad about you. Remove them when you have the chance.
For leaders not in your good books, create a false perception about them. Tell people they are not clean, they are corrupt, they are useless. This without any real evidence or basis ( evidence is not important - a lie when told a few times, becomes a truth!)
As for good and sincere people who may ultimately command good support and become a threat to you, well, block them off when they are still at the lower rungs. Do not let those with potential (but are difficult to control) surface at top level of party. Isolate them. If they become too dangerous, use and support the other camps to 'kill' them off.
When it comes to elections, eh, either interfere to get your inner group members/proteges/relatives elected or otherwise create a 'chai dan' (menu) and ask your members to vote for only those on the 'chai dan'. This 'chai dan' culture is good because any person who wish to be on the 'chai dan' will have to 'bodek' you. You become all-powerful.
As for those leaders who are good for nothing and cannot contribute to society, never mind, promote them so long as they are obedient to you but not to others, in whatever way. These people will not be a threat to you. Never mind about ideology - that is only for when talking to the media.
In the name of politics, all dirty tricks are allowed - as long as you rule that the little turf of yours. This is democracy.