Village Elections Underway in Guangdong

China News Digest, 30 April 2002

[CND, 04/30/02] Guangdong moved its grass-root democracy a step forward when it put top village-level posts for direct elections in all villages, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday

The southern province is holding direct elections from April to June to fill the posts of village chief, deputy chief and other committee members in all of its 1,161 villages. When Guangdong started holding village direct elections in 1999, only 70 percent of its villages had participated. The on-going elections also mark the first time that the voters, not upper level party committees, also pick the candidates.

Despite of the party's commitment on grass-root democracy, the major hurdle for real democracy remains untouched. Member-elected party officials in the village, like party secretary and other committee members, still hold the ultimate authorities over the officials elected by general public.

Some other problems have also surfaced in the Guangdong village elections. In the Changban village, an unwilling successful businessman was nominated as an candidate for the village chief and ran neck-to-neck with the incumbent. I'm very moved at the confidence the people have in me, but I hope I don't win, he said. Meanwhile, incumbents made up a large number of the candidates. Among the eight candidates for five positions in the Changban village, five were incumbents. (LIU Weijun)