ASPAC 2008 - Crossing Boundaries in the Asia-Pacific
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Bryan Chiew-siang HO

Electoral Legitimacy in Chinese Village Elections

Bryan Chiew-siang HO
Department of Government and Public Administration, Universi

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     Last modified: June 1, 2008

Abstract
Since 1988, the Chinese government has implemented competitive elections at the village level based on the Organic Law of Villagersí Committees (experimental). After 10 years of trial implementation, in 1998, the Organic Law was made permanent. The revised 1998 Organic Law stipulated that elections should be free and fair in terms of the direct nomination of candidates by villagers and secret ballots. Since China does not have a multi-party system, elections are concerned with the choice of candidates rather than with the choice of different political platforms. The political legitimacy of village leadership must now be sanctioned by the procedural legitimacy of election. If local cadres resist implementation in accordance with the procedures and rules of the Organic Law, interference, during the election itself, in overt or covert manner, will render an election far from being free and fair. After all, this concerns villagersí right to a real choice of candidates. Apart from cadre interference, what other factors constitute the procedural legitimacy of free and fair elections? Drawing on examples from empirical research in the field, this paper attempts to delineate the factors constituting procedural legitimacy of elections in rural China. It argues for the need to look into villagersí perception of electoral choice and procedures in order to better understand the extent in which villagers are granted a choice of candidates in semi-competitive elections.

Multiple Paper Presentation:
Other papers in this presentation:
Electoral Campaigning on the Internet in Hong Kong: A Case Study of the 2007 District Councils Elections
The 2007 Chief Executive Election: a Political Communication Perspective
Localization versus de-Mainlandization? A Semiotic Study of Taiwan's Presidential Election 2008

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