Thursday, March 8, 2012

Elections : Chinese direct democracy models have come a long way

It is a step forward for the Chinese government (with overlapping membership of Chinese Communist Party) to public promote direct elections in the country.

Indeed, the People's Congress has a strong foundation build from grassroots elections, unlike the less participatory and representative primaries of US presidential elections.

This may come as a surprise to many so-called China watchers who are no experts in the multi level and regional people's government. Way back in the 1980s, just out of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese people have taken the initiative to experiment with democracy from the grassroots upwards. This was enshrined in the 1982 constitutional reform. Village committees have been thriving since then, though these are never captured or picked up in the mainstream western media. Contrary to the impression of an all-powerful central authority and top down directives, local governments (for better or for worse) could formulate suitable policies make independent decisions.

Mao Zedong's call for people's democracy had been tainted by his personal insecurity, attachment to theories and his henchmen's hunger for power. Ironically though, perhaps Chinese are experimenting participatory politics that suit local conditions to fulfil the aspirations of their "great leader" who liberated them from slavery and colonialisation.

China is even considering holding direct elections in Hong Kong in five years' time due to the close ties between the former British colony and mainland.

While China is improving, the West has been on decline with regard to "democracy". The developed world has evolved into a less democratic system, too entrenched in money politics.  Electorate are either disillusioned and apathetic to participate.  At the same time populist single issue politicians and parties in the likes conservative and intolerant Tea Party are exploiting the less educated working class to power.

Instead of vilifying China's democratic models, perhaps those who professed to be practising democracy should reflect, observe others, and look internally for reforms. Who would have expected protests to gather strength among free and contented citizens of democratic countries? Only in poor, deprived and authoritarian systems in the less developed world - but stay tuned, things are changing gradually but surely. For a huge diverse nation like China, economic and social stability should take precedence. Culturally, the self could be sacrificed for common good. A hundred years is not too long to wait.

No comments:

Post a Comment