Institutionalizing Chinese Legislatures: Trade-Offs between Autonomy and Capacity

Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 91-108, February 1998

18 Pages Posted: 17 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

Laura M. Luerhrmann

Wright State University - Department of Political Science

Abstract

Some leaders of Chinese local people's congresses emphasize autonomy in order to promote decentralization and enhance representation. Other legislative insiders favor sacrificing autonomy in order to strengthen capacity and improve oversight. Tight coupling between congresses appeals to local legislators because it offers opportunities to mobilize supporters, obtain resources, and expand jurisdiction, while representatives of higher congresses often oppose closer ties in order to preserve local initiative, safeguard elections, and reduce conflict with Party committees. In a reforming communist state, moreover, single legislatures may not be the right unit of analysis for assessing autonomy. Established boundaries, in the early stages of institutionalization, may apply to the legislative system as a whole rather than to its parts. And softening boundaries between congresses at different levels can harden boundaries against other bureaucracies.

Keywords: China, legislature, local people's congress, institutionalization, representation

JEL Classification: K40, O54, P30

Suggested Citation

O'Brien, Kevin J. and Luerhrmann, Laura M., Institutionalizing Chinese Legislatures: Trade-Offs between Autonomy and Capacity. Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 91-108, February 1998, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1121851

Kevin J. O'Brien

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

210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Laura M. Luerhrmann (Contact Author)

Wright State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

United States

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