Reform of the Electoral System of the People’s Congresses in China – A Case Study of District People’s Congress Election LIN Feng ∗
China’s electoral system is composed of three elements: (i) the electoral system of grassroots autonomous organizations such as village residents’ committees; (ii) the electoral system of the people’s congresses at all levels; and (iii) the electoral system of officials of governmental organs at all levels. Many Chinese and foreign scholars have conducted extensive and in-depth research of the electoral systems of village residents’ committees and township heads. Some scholars are of the view that China’s reform of its village electoral system represents the future of its political system reform, and the experimental reform of township head election will be the breakthrough point for China’s political reform 1 . But an alternative view is that some experimental reform of township head election is unconstitutional and therefore impossible to be promoted in China 2 . What is then the future of China’s electoral system? This paper intends to examine and analyze in detail the current status of China’s electoral system reform of people’s congresses at district level and to predict on that basis the direction of its future development.
This paper will focus on the discussion of the electoral system of people’s congresses. According to the Election Law of the PRC on the National People’s Congress (“the NPC”) and All Local People’s Congresses (“the Election Law”), the deputies to township and county people’s congresses will be directly elected by voters while deputies to the people’s congresses above county level (excluding county level) will be indirectly elected by the deputies to the people’s congress at the next level below. The author’s view is that the very first thing to do is to study whether or not the election at township and county levels is successful. If it is, then direct election can be further ∗
Associate Professor of Law, the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong; LLB, Fudan
University, Shanghai, 1987; LLM, Victoria University of Wellington, 1992; PhD., Beijing University, 1998; Barrister, England & Wales, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC. This research report is the result of a research project on the reform of Chinese electoral system funded by Civic Exchange. The author of this report is solely responsible for any errors which may exist in the report.
See Lifan, “Zhongguo Xuanju Zhidu Gaige” (Reform of China’s Electoral System), Shanghai
Jiaotong University Press, January 2005, at p. 3.
See Zha Qingjiu, “Minzhu Buneng Chaoyue Falu” (Democracy Should not Exceed the Limit of Law),
Legal Daily, 19 January 1999.
expanded gradually up to the NPC. Otherwise, it will be meaningless to expand direct election. What should be done instead is to find out the problems with the election at township and county levels and make improvements before considering expansion of direct election. Hence, after introduction, this paper will first examine the statutory framework governing election of people’s congresses in China and its historical development. That is followed by the discussion of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC’s) political considerations for electoral reform of people’s congresses. Part IV of the paper will discuss electoral practice and its focus will be on the election at township and county levels.
As far as the electoral system of the people’s congresses is concerned, one view is that China is ready to further expand direct election, from county level to municipal and provincial levels 3 . But election at the lowest two levels still has a lot of problems. Though competitive election has appeared in the election of deputies to local people’s congresses at some places, as far as the whole country is concerned, election of deputies to local people’s congresses at most places in China still has the...
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