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
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: Suggested Citation