Independent Candidates: Don’t win again

Yao Lifa (姚立法), a primary school teacher and native of Hubei Province, was elected to his town’s people’s congress in 1998, according to an Economist article of last year. He wasn’t reelected in 2003, while some other independents

did manage to gain seats that year in county and township “people’s congresses”. But in the following elections in 2006 and 2007, the authorities did all they could to stop them winning, from gerrymandering and vote-rigging to intimidation. Mr Yao says he was detained five times [in 2009] to keep him quiet during politically sensitive occasions, including the NPC session [in March that year].

Some window-dressing notwithstanding, the CCP makes sure that important laws or leadership appointments are passed with a minimum of dissent – the Economist described in some detail how the nomenklatura took care of the harmonious goal.

In principle, China’s constitution allows

all adults to run for the largely powerless local People’s Congresses, except those who have been formally stripped of political rights.
However, in practice, the one-party government tilts the vote heavily in favor of its own candidates, mostly officials and party members.
Independent-minded citizens who hope to win a place on these congresses face heavy procedural barriers, though in past years a few have succeeded in winning election and then have used their posts to challenge government officials.
Now Beijing has warned would-be grassroots politicians that they cannot campaign online and on the streets as “independent candidates”,

a Reuters article published by the Taipei Times on Friday says.

In April this year, China Daily reported that China was

gearing up to establish village affairs supervisory committees in rural areas across the country, plugging the last gap in the grassroots democracy. […]

The committees must give priority to supervising events that raise villagers’ concern, said Zhao Hongzhu, Party secretary of Zhejiang province and a key advocate of the committees since their birth.

In February this year, Zhou Yongkang (周永康), the CCP’s Politics and Law Committee’s chairman, and a member of the politbureau’s nine-members standing committee, called for the establishment of

more pluralistic participation (多方参与), a concept of shared governance, the maintenance of party leadership and guidance by the government, and cooperation with all benign forces in society.

Zhou made his speech on a conference on the improvement of “social management”.

The CCP apparently doesn’t think of Yao Lifa as a benign force at all. But as long as provincial party secretaries like Zhao Hongzhu take care of village “supervisory democracy” (and make sure that it doesn’t even arrive at the municipal level), Beijing can put its mind at ease.

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Related
» Learning Chinese with the CCP: Dangwai, January 31, 2011
» NPC Delegates on Survey: Dreams, Drawing Closer, March 1, 2011
» Hermit: Delegates make a Big Difference, March 6, 2009

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