Rural Democracy in China

Rural Democracy in China

by Tianjian Shi


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Why does the Chinese government allow village elections? What implications do these grass-roots level popular elections have for the democratization of China? By tracing the history of village level governance reform, one of the premier authorities on electoral reforms in China tackles these fundamental questions in this volume. According to the author, there are two roots to the emergence of village elections in China: structural changes in the village economy and bureaucratic politics. The author also identifies old guard Peng Zhen, himself victimized by lawlessness during the Cultural Revolution, and officials in the Ministry of Civil Affairs — an otherwise powerless bureaucracy that has jurisdiction over rural governance issues — as the driving force behind the reform in the government.The author believes that village elections have enormous political implications for China: they represent yet another aspect of “creeping democratization” of the country. Resistance from the status quo interests will be stiff, but democracy has a chance in the alliance between the disgruntled population and reform-minded elites in the leadership.Does economic prosperity increase the likelihood of political democracy? Using 1993 national survey data, the author examines the relationships between the level of economic development and the rate of semi-competitive village elections. Data analysis suggests that economic prosperity is positively associated with the occurrence of semi-competitive elections only to a certain point, above which the association turns negative. In other words, both the least and the most developed villages are less likely to hold semi-competitive elections for the chair of the village committee, which is officially defined as “an organization of self-governance of villagers”. The author also argues that rapid economic development may delay the process of political development because incumbent leaders can use newly acquired economic resources to consolidate their power.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789810242886
Publisher: World Scientific / S'pore Univ Press (Pte) Ltd
Publication date: 03/28/2000
Series: East Asian Institute Contemporary China Series
Pages: 64
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.30(d)

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