Path to Democracy? Assessing Village Elections in China

Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 18, No. 60, pp. 359-78, June 2009

40 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2008 Last revised: 31 May 2012

See all articles by Kevin J. O'Brien

Kevin J. O'Brien

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science

Rongbin Han

University of Georgia

Date Written: July 13, 2009

Abstract

Election procedures in rural China have improved greatly over the last twenty years and a good number of reasonably free and fair elections have been held. But changes in the exercise of power have not kept up with changes in the access to power. In many communities, township authorities, Party branches, and social forces (such as clans, religious groups, and underworld elements) continue to impede democratic rule. This suggests that a purely procedural definition of democracy is problematic and that democratization depends on the power configuration in which elected bodies are embedded. Putting grassroots democracy into place goes well beyond getting the procedures right, and high quality democracy rests on much more than convening good village elections every three years.

Keywords: China, elections, rural, village

Suggested Citation

O'Brien, Kevin J. and Han, Rongbin, Path to Democracy? Assessing Village Elections in China (July 13, 2009). Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 18, No. 60, pp. 359-78, June 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1097242

Kevin J. O'Brien (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science ( email )

210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Rongbin Han

University of Georgia ( email )

322 Candler Hall
Athens, GA Georgia 30602-6254
United States

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