Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

One person, one vote (sort of)

In China, it's been a long time since there was equal representation. Well, perhaps there has never been equal representation. Or even de facto representation. But there is a national legislature.

China's rule by law boosted by equal political rights and equal life compensation in urban and rural areas
Equality has become a catchphrase when Chinese lawmakers mull over two major moves in the history of China's legislative progress.

Chinese rural and urban people are about to get equal representation in lawmaking bodies. It means farmers will have the same say in the country's decision-making process as urbanites...

China's population distribution

A draft amendment to the Electoral Law was tabled [introduced] at the bimonthly meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee. It requires that both rural and urban areas adopt the same ratio of deputies to the people's congresses...

After the last amendment in 1995, the law stipulates that each rural deputy represents a population four times that in urban areas.

That means in China, every 960,000 rural residents and every 240,000 urbanites are represented by one rural and urban NPC deputy respectively.

Critics say this can be interpreted as "farmers only enjoy a quarter of the suffrage of their urban counterparts...

Li Shishi, director of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee, said such a provision is "in accordance with the country's political system and social conditions of that time" and is "completely necessary" as the rural population is much more than that of cities and an equal ratio of rural and urban representation will mean an excessive number of rural deputies.

Rural population made up almost 90 percent of the country's total in 1949. With the process of urbanization, the ratio of urban and rural residents was about 45.7 to 54.3 last year...

According to the law, the number of deputies to the NPC is limited within 3,000, and the distribution of NPC deputies is decided by the NPC Standing Committee, the top legislature.

The draft amendment says the quotas of NPC deputies are distributed to 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions on the basis of their population, which ensures equal representation among regions and ethnic groups...

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