Accommodating 'Democracy' in a One-Party State: Introducing Village Elections in China

China Quarterly, No. 162, pp. 465-89, June 2000

25 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2008

See all articles by Kevin J. O'Brien

Kevin J. O'Brien

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

Lianjiang Li

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Social Science

Abstract

Using interviews, leadership speeches, and archival materials, this article reviews how autonomous villagers' committees appeared in Guangxi in the early 1980s and how they were transformed into a replacement for production brigades. It also examines the preferences of various actors involved in implementing village elections, including the Party Organization Department, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and its local staff, local authorities, and ordinary villagers. The article concludes that elections were designed to rejuvenate grassroots leadership by cleaning out incompetent, corrupt, and high-handed cadres, all for the purpose of consolidating one-Party rule. But it also highlights a potential alliance between frustrated villagers and reformist elites that may yet produce a village leadership in which every cadre is held accountable in free and fair elections.

Keywords: China, elections, village committees, democracy, rural

JEL Classification: K49, O54, P33

Suggested Citation

O'Brien, Kevin J. and Li, Lianjiang, Accommodating 'Democracy' in a One-Party State: Introducing Village Elections in China. China Quarterly, No. 162, pp. 465-89, June 2000, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1118844

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

Lianjiang Li

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Faculty of Social Science ( email )

Hong Kong

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