Elections in China

Elections in China are based on a hierarchical electoral system, whereby local People's Congresses are directly elected, and all higher levels of People's Congresses up to the National People's Congress, the national legislature, are indirectly elected by the People's Congress of the level immediately below.[1]

Governors, mayors, and heads of counties, districts, townships and towns are in turn elected by the respective local People's Congresses.[2] Presidents of people's courts and chief procurators of people's procuratorates are elected by the respective local People's Congresses above the county level.[2] The President and the State Council are elected by the National People's Congress, which is made of 2980 people.

Mao Zedong voting
Mao Zedong casting his vote.

Electoral system

Direct elections

People's Congresses of cities that are not divided into districts (不设区的市), counties (), city districts (市辖区), towns (), townships (), and lastly ethnic townships (民族乡), are directly elected.[1] Additionally, village () committee members and chairpersons are directly elected.[3][4] Local People's Congresses have the constitutional authority to recall the heads and deputy heads of government at the provincial level and below.

Local People's Congresses

中国大陆的一个居民小区的选民名单
A list of voters posted in a neighbourhood in Shenzhen, Guangdong. April 11, 2014.

Under the electoral law of 1 July 1979, nomination of candidates for direct elections (in counties, townships, etc.) can be made by the Communist Party of China, the various other political parties, mass organizations, or any voter seconded by at least 3 others.[5] The final list of electoral candidates must be worked out through "discussion and consultation" or primary elections,[5] but in practice is determined by the election committee in consultation with small groups of voters, through a process known as the "three ups and three downs" (三上三下, sān shàng sān xià).[6] According to the Chinese government, the "three ups and three downs" process is supposed to operate as follows:

  • the election committee collates all of the nominations, checks them, and publishes the list of nominees and their basic details (first "up"). The published list is given to groups of electors, comprising the voters in each geographical or institutional electorate for discussion (first "down");
  • the views of the groups of electors are conveyed via group representatives at a committee meeting, in order to reduce the number of candidates (second "up"). The views of different elector groups and the discussions at the committee meeting are then conveyed to voters, and their views are sought (second "down"); and
  • the views of the groups of electors are once again collated and reported to the election committee which, by reference to the views of the majority of electors, determine the final list of candidates (third "up"). The list of names and basic details is published by electorate (third "down").[7]

The number of candidates for an election should be 50% to 100% larger than the number of seats, voting is to be done by secret ballot, and voters are theoretically entitled to recall elections.[8] Eligible voters, and their electoral districts, are chosen from the family (户籍) or work unit (单位 or dānwèi) registers for rural and urban voters, respectively, which are then submitted to the election committees after cross-examination by electoral district leaders.[9] Electoral districts at the basic level (townships, towns, etc.) are composed of 200–300 voters but sometimes up to 1000, while larger levels (counties, etc.) are composed of 3000 to 4000 voters

Local People's Governments

Heads of People's Governments are formally elected by the People's Congress of that level pursuant to the Organic Law on Local People's Congresses and Governments,[10] but the heads of township governments have been experimentally elected by the people through various mechanisms.[11] There are several models used:[12]

  • direct nomination and election (Chinese: 直推直选; pinyin: zhi tui zhi xuan)
  • direction election (Chinese: 直选; pinyin: zhi xuan)
  • two ballots in three rounds (Chinese: 三轮两票制; pinyin: san lun liang piao zhi)
  • competition based on mass recommendation (Chinese: 民推竞选; pinyin: min tui jing xuan)
  • nomination and election by the masses ( or hǎi xuǎn; literally "sea election")
  • public recommendation and public election (Chinese: 公推公选; pinyin: gong tui gong xuan)
  • vote of confidence (Chinese: 信任投票; pinyin: xin ren tou piao)

Village chiefs

Since taking power in 1978, Deng Xiaoping experimented with direct democracy at the local level.[13] Villages have been traditionally the lowest level of government in China's complicated hierarchy of governance.[14] Many have criticized the locally elected representatives as serving as "rubber stamps", though during some eras the Communists have flirted with the idea of potentially allowing some competition.[15] In the early 1980s, a few southern villages began implementing "Vote for your Chief" policies, in which free elections are intended to be held for the election of a village chief, who holds a lot of power and influence traditionally in rural society.[16] Many of these multi-candidate elections[17] were successful, involving candidate debates, formal platforms, and the initiation of secret ballot boxes.[18] The suffrage was not universal,[19] with eligible citizens above age 18 having the right to vote and be elected. Such an election comprises usually over no more than 2000 voters, and the first-past-the-post system is used in determining the winner, with no restriction on political affiliation.[20] The elections, held every three years,[21] are always supervised by a higher level of government, usually by a County Government. Part of the reason for these early elections was to shift the responsibility of ensuring good performance and reduced corruption of local leaders from the Chinese bureaucracy to the local villagers.[22]

Under the Organic Law of Village Committees, all of China's approximately 1 million villages are expected to hold competitive, direct elections for sub-governmental village committees. A 1998 revision to the law called for improvements in the nominating process and enhanced transparency in village committee administration.[23] The revised law also explicitly transferred the power to nominate candidates to villagers themselves, as opposed to village groups or Chinese Communist Party (CCP) branches.[24] According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, as of 2003 the majority of provinces had carried out at least four or five rounds of village elections.

According to BBC News, state media regularly reports on vote buying and corruption during these elections to discredit wider implementation in higher levels of government.[25]

Some townships and urban areas also have experimented with direct elections of local government leaders.

Indirect elections

People's Congresses of provinces (), directly controlled municipalities (直辖市), and cities divided into districts (设区的市) are indirectly elected by the People's Congress of the level immediately below.[1]

Local People's Governments

The Local People's Congress at each administrative level—other than the village level in rural areas, which hold direct elections—elects candidates for executive positions at that level of government.

National People's Congress

The National People's Congress (NPC) has 2987 members, elected for five year terms. Deputies are elected (over a three-month period) by the people's congresses of the provinces of China, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the Central Government, special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and the armed forces. The size of each college of delegates is related to the number of electors in the constituency. 36 deputies are elected in Hong Kong.

National People's Government

The President and Vice President of China, the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Secretary-General of the Standing Committee of the NPC, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, and the President of the Supreme People's Court are elected by the NPC on the nomination of the Presidium of the NPC.[26] The Premier is elected by the NPC on the nomination of the President.[26] Other members of the State Council are elected by the NPC on the nomination of the Premier.[26] Other members of the Central Military Commission are elected by the NPC on the nomination of the Chairman of the Central Military Commission.[26]

In the 2008 election for the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, for example, president Hu Jintao, the only candidate, received a majority of approval votes. However, some electors chose to write in other names; the most popular write-in candidate was former premier Zhu Rongji.

For appointed positions requiring the approval of the People's Congress, such as the premier and cabinet ministers, delegates may either approve or disapprove of the appointment. Relevant laws provide that if the single candidate does not receive more than 50% approval, the position is left vacant until the next session of the People's Congress. This rarely happens in practice, and has never happened at the national level.

Party system

Officially, China is a multi-party socialist state under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). There are a small number of independent candidates for people's congress, particularly in neighborhoods of major cities, who sometimes campaign using weibos posted on the internet.[27][28]

Although there is no legal requirement for either membership in or approval by the Communist Party, in practice the membership of the higher people's congresses and people's governments are largely determined by the Party.[29] Independent candidates are strongly discouraged and face government intervention in their campaigns.[30] In practice, the power of parties other than the Communist Party of China is eliminated.[28] Because none of the minor parties have independent bases of support and rely on Communist Party approval for appointment to positions of power, none have the capacity to serve as a true opposition party. Whereas there are Communist Party Committees in People's Congresses at all levels, none of the other parties operate any form of party parliamentary groups. In order to represent different segments of the population and bring in technical expertise, the CCP does ensure that a significant minority of people's congress delegates are either minor party members or unaffiliated, and there is tolerance of disagreement and debate in the legislative process where this does not fundamentally challenge the role of the Communist Party.

Communist Party regulations require members of the People's Congresses, People's Governments, and People's Courts to implement CPC recommendations (including nominations) pursuant to the CPC Regulations on the Selection and Appointment Work of Cadres of Both CPC and Government Organs.[29]

"These regulations apply to the selection and appointment of cadres to the working departments and/or internal institutes of the Central Committee of the CPC, the NPCSC, the State Council, the National People's Consultative Committee, the Central Disciplinary Committee of the CPC, officials (not including the heads) of the Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuratorate and their internal institutions, officials of local CPC organs, people's congresses, people's governments, political consultative committees, people's courts, people's procuratorates at and above county level, and their internal institutions, as well as officials of the internal institutions of the working organs mentioned above. Reference should be made to these regulations for the selection and appointment of officials to institutions directly under the leadership of the CPC organs an people's governments at and above county level, trade unions, youth leagues of the CPC, women's associations and any other people's organizations. Reference should be made to these regulations for the selection and appointment of officials who are not CPC members. Reference should also be made to these regulations in the selection and appointment of persons to non-leaders' positions above county level (Chuji). …

"When a CPC committee recommends to a people's congress or its standing committee candidates for officials to positions which need to be elected by either a people's congress or its standing committee, it should first introduce its recommendation opinions to the interim CPC organ within the people's congress or the CPC organization of the standing committee of the people's congress. The interim CPC organ, the CPC organization within the standing committee of the people's congress and CPC members of the standing committee and of the people's congress, should seriously implement the recommendation opinions of the CPC committee, take lead in doing things according to law, and correctly perform their obligations."

Elected leaders remain subordinate to the corresponding CCP secretary, and most are appointed by higher-level party organizations.[29] Furthermore, while legally responsible for the oversight of the administration, it is difficult for a person in a people's congress without party support to exercise effective control or power over the administration of the executive at a given level.

Electoral history

No parties other than the Communist Party and the eight allied parties were allowed at the elections, which took place from October 2012 to March 2013. The same nine parties are represented at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

 Summary of the October 2012–February 2013
National People's Congress
of the People's Republic of China election results
Parties Seats
Communist Party of China (中国共产党) 2,157 [31]
United Front, independents 830
Total 2,987
 Summary of the October 2007–February 2008
National People's Congress
of the People's Republic of China election results
Parties Seats
2,987
Total 2,987

Legislation

The first electoral law was passed in March 1953, and the second on 1 July 1979.[5] The 1979 law allowed for ordinary voters to nominate candidates, unlike the 1953 law which provided no such mechanism.[5] The 1979 law was revised in 1982, removing the reference to the ability of political parties, mass organizations, and voters to use "various forms of publicity", and instead instructing that the "election committees should introduce the candidates to the voters; the political parties, mass organizations, and voters who recommend the candidates can introduce them at group meetings of the voters".[32] In 1986, the election law was amended to disallow primary elections.[33]

Traditionally, village chiefs were appointed by the township government.[4] The Organic Law of Village Committees was enacted 1987 and implemented in 1988, allowing for direct election of village chiefs instead.[34]

See also

References

Citations

  1. ^ a b c Article 97 of the Constitution of China
  2. ^ a b Article 101 of the Constitution of China
  3. ^ Article 111 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China
  4. ^ a b Niou 2011, p. 3.
  5. ^ a b c d Chen 1999, p. 65.
  6. ^ McCormick 1990, p. 141.
  7. ^ "三上三下"协商确定县乡两级人大代表正式候选人的具体做法是什么? Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine (What is the specific procedure for the "three ups and three downs" method for determining through consultation the official candidates for People's Congress Representatives at the county and prefecture level?), Hebei People's Congress, 6 December 2011
  8. ^ Chen 1999, p. 66.
  9. ^ Leung 1996, pp. 109–110.
  10. ^ Lin 2011, pp. 67–69.
  11. ^ Lin 2011, p. 66.
  12. ^ 林 (Lin), 峰 (Feng) (2011). 郑 (Cheng), 宇硕(Joseph Y. S.) (ed.). Whither China's Democracy: Democratization in China Since the Tiananmen Incident. City University of Hong Kong Press. pp. 65–99. ISBN 978-962-937-181-4. At pp. 77–87.
  13. ^ Michelle Phillips (July 4, 2011). "Chinese independents to challenge Communists in 2012". The Washington Times Weekly.
  14. ^ Lei Xie (2012). Environmental Activism in China. Routledge. p. 12.
  15. ^ "Democracy's other version: China holds elections". The Economist. November 10, 2016.
  16. ^ Gerald Segal (1989). Political and economic encyclopaedia of the Pacific. Longman. p. 34.
  17. ^ Jonathan Unger (2002). The Transformation of Rural China. M.E. Sharpe. p. 218.
  18. ^ Sue Vander Hook (2011). Communism. ABDO. p. 94.
  19. ^ Hugo Burgh (2004). The Chinese Journalist: Mediating Information in the World's Most Populous Country. Routledge. p. 77.
  20. ^ Andrew Sancton and Chen Zhenming (2014). Citizen Participation at the Local Level in China and Canada. CRC Press. p. 214.
  21. ^ Gunter Schubert and Anna L. Ahlers (2012). Participation and Empowerment at the Grassroots: Chinese Village Elections in Perspective. Lexington Books. p. 1.
  22. ^ William A. Joseph (2014). Politics in China: An Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 302.
  23. ^ Joseph de Rivera (2008). Handbook on Building Cultures of Peace. Springer. p. 162.
  24. ^ B. He (2007). Rural Democracy in China: The Role of Village Elections. Springer. p. 25.
  25. ^ Hogg, Chris (22 July 2010). "Buying votes in China village polls 'costing more'". BBC News.
  26. ^ a b c d Lin 2011, pp. 68–69.
  27. ^ "New faces should go back to reality". The Global Times. May 30, 2011. Archived from the original (Editorial) on November 12, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011. Just like opposition parties in the West, independent candidates in China represent different opinions on the political scene. Since China's political system is based on the cooperation of multiple parties under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, it would not suit the participation of candidates who choose an opposing attitude toward the current system.
  28. ^ a b LaFraniere, Sharon (October 31, 2011). "In China, Political Outsiders Turn to Microblog Campaigns". The New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2011. an election that is ostensibly open to all comers, but in fact is stacked in favor of the Communist Party's handpicked candidates.
  29. ^ a b c Lin 2011, pp. 72–76. "Regulations on the Selection and Appointment Work of Cadres of Both CPC and Government Organs".
  30. ^ Sharon LaFraniere (December 4, 2011). "Alarmed by Independent Candidates, Chinese Authorities Crack Down". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
  31. ^ [1].
  32. ^ Chen 1999, p. 69.
  33. ^ McCormick 1990, p. 142.
  34. ^ Niou 2011, pp. 4–5.

Sources

1909 Chinese provincial elections

The 1909 Chinese Provincial Assembly elections were held to elect the members of the Provincial Assemblies of China in April and June 1909 as part of the New Policies under the Qing government as a move toward constitutional monarchy. The Provincial Assemblies were convened on 14 October 1909 and were responsible for electing half of the members of the National Assembly convened subsequently in 1910. The assemblies survived until the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912 after the Hsinhai Revolution.

About 1.7 million men, or 0.42 percent of a population of 410 million, were registered as eligible voters. It was marked as one of the most important episodes of Chinese democracy as "it is the first day in Chinese history that people can elect their representative," as promoted by newspaper Shi Pao, although a county council election in Tientsin had been held earlier in 1907. The Constitutionalists gained grounds in the election and became more active in the constitutional movement pushing for the establishment of constitutional monarchy.

1997 National People's Congress election in Hong Kong

The election for the Hong Kong deputies to the 9th National People's Congress (NPC) was held on 8 December 1997. 36 Hong Kong deputies were elected by an electoral college. It was the first ever election for the Hong Kong deputies to the NPC since the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on 1 July 1997.

1999 Hong Kong local elections

The 1999 Hong Kong District Council elections were held on 28 November 1999 for all 18 districts of Hong Kong, for 390 members from directly elected constituencies out of total 519 council members. It was the first District Council election after the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, replacing the existing Provisional District Councils appointed by Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.

The pro-Beijing camp scored fairly well in the election, with the flagship pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), improved its performance in catching up with the Democratic Party, the largest pro-democracy party. The Democratic Party sustained its political momentum by securing 24.9 per cent of the votes as compared to 22.8 per cent in 1994. The DAB and the Democratic Party became the largest parties in the District Councils, while DAB captured 83 seats out of 176 candidates, the Democratic Party captured 86 out of 173 candidates. The pro-grassroots pro-democracy party, the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL), appeared to lose some popular support from 7 per cent of the total vote in 1994 to 4.7 per cent in 1999.

Overall, the pro-democracy forces failed to enhance their influence and outperform the pro-Beijing camp. After the election, Tung Chee-hwa reintroduced appointed members to the District Councils, appointing 102 pro-government members to prevent the pro-democracy camp from dominating the councils.

2000 Hong Kong Election Committee Subsector elections

The 2000 Election Committee subsector elections were held on 9 July 2000 to elect 664 members of Election Committee. The Election Committee was responsible for electing the Legislative Council members of the Election Committee constituency, as well as the Chief Executive of Hong Kong in the following 2002 Chief Executive election.

2002 Hong Kong Chief Executive election

The 2002 Hong Kong Chief Executive election was to select the second term of the Chief Executive (CE) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Incumbent Tung Chee-hwa was nominated by the 800-member Election Committee (EC) without competition.

2002 Hong Kong Election Committee Subsector by-elections

The 2002 Election Committee subsector by-elections were held on 6 January 2002 to update the membership of the Election Committee for electing the Chief Executive of Hong Kong in the following Chief Executive election in March.

2002 National People's Congress election in Hong Kong

The election for the Hong Kong deputies to the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) was held on 3 December 2002. 36 Hong Kong deputies were elected by an electoral college.

2003 Hong Kong local elections

The 2003 Hong Kong District Council elections were held on 23 November 2003 for all 18 districts of Hong Kong, 400 members from directly elected constituencies out of total 529 council members. It was the second District Council election after the handover of Hong Kong in 1997.

The election was historically significant as it was the first election came after the controversies over the legislation of the Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23 and the large-scale July 1 protests in mid-2003 against the unpopular Tung Chee-hwa administration. The election saw the devastating defeat of the pro-government pro-Beijing camp.

The pro-Beijing flagship party Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) received the largest defeat in the elections, only 62 of the 206 of its candidates were elected. The party's heavyweights, Yeung Yiu-chung, Lau Kong-wah and Ip Kwok-him all lost their seats to the pro-democracy challengers, with Ip lost his longtime base of Kwun Lung to Cyd Ho of The Frontier. Choy So-yuk also faced challenge from Leung Kwok-hung of April Fifth Action, only retained her seat with narrow margin. DAB chairman Tsang Yok-sing resigned for the party's defeat after the election, and subsequently was replaced by Ma Lik. The pro-democracy camp received overall success, with Democratic Party winning the most of 95 seats.

After the election, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa appointed 102 pro-government members to the District Councils to dilute the influence of the pro-democrats and retained control of some of the councils.

2005 Hong Kong Chief Executive election

The 2005 Hong Kong Chief Executive election was held to fill the vacancy of the territory's top office. Then Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa submitted his resignation to the central government in Beijing, and was officially approved on 12 March. As Donald Tsang, Chief Secretary for Administration in Tung's cabinet, was the only candidate, he was declared elected unopposed on 16 June. Tsang took office on 21 June to begin his first two-year term.

2005 Hong Kong Election Committee Subsector by-elections

The 2005 Election Committee subsector by-elections were held on 1 May 2005 to fill the 33 vacancies in 17 subsectors of the Election Committee for electing the Hong Kong Chief Executive in the Chief Executive election in following March.

2007 Hong Kong local elections

The 2007 Hong Kong District Council elections were held on 18 November 2007. Elections were held to all 18 districts of Hong Kong, returned 405 members from directly elected constituencies out of total 534 councils member. A total number of 886 candidates contesting in 364 seats, while 41 seats were uncontested. A total number of 1.4 million voters cast their ballots, consisting 38% of the electorate, significantly lower than the last elections in 2003.

The pro-Beijing flagship party Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) received the largest victory in its history, rebounding their loss from the 2003 with extra gain, taking total number of 115 seats, compared to 62 seats in the 2003 elections. The pan-democrats suffered a devastating loss, with its electoral coalition winning only about a hundred seats out of almost 300 candidates. The pro-democracy flagship party Democratic Party was beaten in every region especially in Kowloon, losing almost half of the seats as compared to the 2003 elections.

As a result, the pan-democrats lost control of their two traditional strongholds, Sham Shui Po and Kwai Tsing with the help of the pro-government members appointed by Chief Executive Donald Tsang to the District Councils.

2008 National People's Congress election in Hong Kong

The election for the Hong Kong deputies to the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) was held on 25 January 2008. 36 Hong Kong deputies were elected by an electoral college composed of 1,231 members.

2011 Hong Kong local elections

The 2011 Hong Kong District Council elections were held on 6 November 2011. Elections were held to all 18 District Councils of Hong Kong, returning 412 members from directly elected constituencies, each selecting a council member. After the government's constitutional reform package was passed in 2010, five new seats in the Legislative Council would be created in which the candidates would be nominated by all District Councillors.

The pro-Beijing camp continued its success in this election and controlled all 18 District Councils. The pro-Beijing flagship party Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) remained the biggest winner by taking 136 seats, far ahead of the pan-democracy flagship party Democratic Party's 47 seats. The Democratic Party faced challenges from radical democratic party People Power which campaigned against the Democratic Party and Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL) which supported the government's constitutional reform package in 2010. The People Power filled 62 candidates, most of them stood against the Democratic Party and ADPL candidates, including Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho and ADPL former chairman Frederick Fung.

Albert Ho and Frederick Fung were able to retain their seats, but other pan-democrat heavyweights who tried to gain seats in the District Councils in order to run in the new constituency in next year's Legislative Council election, including Tanya Chan, Ronny Tong and Lee Cheuk-yan, lost their bids to relatively unknown local councillors.

2012 National People's Congress election in Hong Kong

The election for the Hong Kong deputies to the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) was held on 19 December 2012. 36 Hong Kong deputies were elected by an electoral college composed of 1,620 members.

2017 National People's Congress election in Hong Kong

The election for the Hong Kong deputies to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) was held on 19 December 2017. 36 Hong Kong deputies were elected by an electoral college composed of 1,989 members.

2019 Hong Kong local elections

The 2019 Hong Kong District Council elections are scheduled to be held on 24 November 2019 for the sixth District Councils of Hong Kong. Elections are to be held to all 18 District Councils with returning 452 members from all directly elected constituencies, out of the total 479 seats.

2020 Hong Kong legislative election

The 2020 Hong Kong Legislative Council election is scheduled in September 2020 for the 7th Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo). A total of 70 members, 35 from geographical constituencies (GCs) and 35 from functional constituencies (FCs), will be returned.

2022 Hong Kong Chief Executive election

The 2022 Hong Kong Chief Executive election is scheduled in 2022 for the 6th term of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong (CE), the highest office of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Incumbent Carrie Lam who was elected in 2017 will finish her current term on 30 June 2022 and will be eligible for a second term. The winner of the 2022 Chief Executive election is scheduled to be inaugurated on 1 July 2022.

Functional constituency

A functional constituency is an electoral device (a non-geographical constituency) used within the political systems of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China:

Functional constituency (Hong Kong) - a group of professionals within the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.

Functional constituency (Macau) - a political group in Macau.

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