World Facts

Are There Elections in China?

Contrary to popular misconception, China does actually hold elections.

Politics in China are dominated by the ruling Chinese Communist Party headed by the General Secretary. China practices a form of democracy that it refers to as socialist consultative democracy. Under this democracy, effective participation through political parties, people’s organization, and social organizations are guaranteed. One of the elements of the socialist consultative democracy is the election. Contrary to popular misconception, China does actually hold elections.

Overview of the Elections in China

Elections in China take place under a hierarchal electoral system where the leaders at the different levels are elected differently. The first step involves the direct election of the Local People’s Congress. The other higher levels of People’s Congress are then indirectly elected by the People’s Congress representatives immediately below them. The various Local People’s Congresses also elect their respective heads of counties, mayors, and governors. The National People’s Congress, which is made up of 2,980 delegates, elects the State Council and the president.

The Electoral System

The electoral system of the People’s Republic of China is broadly divided into two: direct and indirect elections. The direct election takes place in cities that are not divided into townships, towns, city districts, counties, and districts. It involves the direct elections of the Local People’s Congress. The candidates for the election are nominated by the political parties including the Communist Party of China (CPC). The final nomination list is worked out by means of consultation with groups of voters through a process known as “three up and three down.” The voting is done by secret ballot and the eligible voters are picked from work unit or family registers for urban or rural voters respectively. The list is then submitted to the election committee after thorough scrutiny by electoral district leaders. The directly elected Local People’s Congresses elect their respective Heads of People’s Government.

Party System

China is a multiparty socialist state with CPC as the dominant party. There are also a few independent candidates for the Local People’s Congresses. Although there is no law requiring either membership in or approval of CPC, the membership to both people’s government and people’s congress is mainly determined by the party. Since the minor parties largely depend on CPC for approvals for appointments to various leadership positions, none of these parties can be considered as a true opposition party. The minor parties also do not operate parliamentary groups of any form.

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