People's democracy

By Yin Pumin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Beijing Review, September 15, 2014
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The electoral system

In 1979, the NPC revised the Electoral Law of the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses. The law was then amended five times in 1982, 1986, 1995, 2004, and 2010, respectively.

According to the amended Electoral Law, political parties and people's organizations may either jointly or separately recommend candidates for deputies, and a joint group of at least 10 voters or deputies may also recommend candidates, which undoubtedly enhances voters' nomination rights.

In view of the sharp gap between rural and urban populations in the early years of the PRC, the population ratio based on which NPC deputies were elected between rural and urban areas was 8 to 1, but in the most recent NPC, deputies were elected based on their make-up of the population, so as to guarantee equal rights for all citizens.

In addition, deputies to people's congresses at and below county level are now elected directly by their constituents. Previously, the rule was only practiced at lower levels such as urban towns or rural townships. "The change enables the people to better exercise their right to govern the state," Li with the CASS said.

Another major breakthrough regarding the electoral system for deputies to the people's congresses is a shift from non-competitive to competitive elections. "This not only enables voters and deputies to better exercise their rights to vote, but also encourages candidates to better perform their duties and represent the interests of their constituents, so as to realize the ultimate goal of elections—selecting the most capable," Li said.

The NPC and local people's congresses at different levels are constituted by deputies elected via democratic election. Along with the diversification of China's economic entities and society, deputies to people's congresses at all levels have also seen a tendency to become more diverse.

In 1983, Bai Shiming, who operated a private photo studio in Harbin of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, was elected a deputy to the Sixth NPC, a significant breakthrough in an era when the private economy was relatively new to the country.

In 1993, Liu Guansong, a private entrepreneur in south China's Guangdong Province, was elected an NPC deputy. According to the Constitution amended later, non-public sectors of the economy were placed at a higher position, becoming an "important component of the socialist market economy." From that point on, more and more private entrepreneurs have been found amongst NPC deputies.

The social identities of NPC deputies are increasingly diversifying, with three migrant workers being elected NPC deputies in 2008. The amended Electoral Law states that among deputies to the people's congresses at all levels, "there shall be an appropriate number of grassroots deputies, especially from among workers, farmers and intellectuals."

Moreover, increasing numbers of young people born in the 1980s and 1990s have become deputies to people's congresses at every level.

Statistics show that 74 deputies to the 12th NPC were born in the 1980s in addition to two born in the 90s. Despite their lack of social and political experience, these young deputies have shown great interest in state affairs and impressed veterans with their creativity. For instance, Sun Xiaolei, a 1990s-born senior at Fudan University who was elected a deputy to the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, impressively gathered public opinion via microblogging platforms.

"Along with China's social progress, the people's congress system is improving accordingly and will serve as a solid foundation for realizing the people's dream of national rejuvenation," said Li.


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