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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Democracy-China, China-Politics and government-21st century, Local government-China, Zhongguo gong chan dang, Inner-party democracy, Democratic reform, Chinese political reform, Liberalization, Local election


Inner-party democracy is a relatively new term introduced by the Communist Party of China (CCP) in the last decade. Aimed at enhancing the Party's governing capability, experiments have been carried out in various forms at the local level and have met with varying degrees of success. Its emergence has sparked a new round of optimism both at home and abroad regarding the prospects for a democratic China. The main goal of this thesis is, therefore, to determine whether inner-party democracy, despite its state-controlled, party-oriented nature, could have any positive impact on the Chinese society at large, thus propelling the country towards greater democracy. The first part of the thesis provides a detailed examination of recent developments in inner-party democracy, including direct elections of local party committee secretaries, enhanced selection mechanism of local party congress delegates, and the system of permanent representation in local party congresses. The examination focuses on aspects of participation, procedure, popular response and policy impact. Based on the study of representative cases, the second part of the thesis draws several observations. Many incompatibilities are found between the new practice and the existing system, with the latter appearing to dominate when the two are in conflict. By treating the Party leadership's commitment to inner-party democracy in the long term as a independent variable, this thesis concludes that inner-party democracy will only serve the purpose of consolidating party power. Without the existence of other necessary conditions, innerparty democracy is unlikely to stimulate any meaningful social force or awareness that would eventually seep out of the Party system to promote democracy.




103 p. Honors Project-Smith College, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references.