China Leadership Monitor

From Selection to Election?—Experiments in the Recruitment of Chinese Political Elites

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Are elections playing an important role in Chinese politics today? The simple answer is no. Is China gradually moving from selection to election in the recruitment of political elites? That is a more difficult question to answer. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is certainly unwilling to give up its monopoly on political power. Chinese leaders continue to claim, explicitly rather than implicitly, that the CCP is entitled to make all of the country’s most important personnel appointments. But since the late 1990s, especially in recent years, the Chinese authorities have experimented with electoral methods in the selection and confirmation of Party and government officials at various levels of leadership. With a focus on both intra-Party and people’s congress elections, this article offers a preliminary assessment of elections in China—their significance and limitations, and their impact on the Chinese political process.