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New Issues Relating to Village Governance


Zhao Shukai, Development Research Center of the State Council

The enforcement of village-level organization system constitutes the key factor while public management of villages is the primary level of rural governance. The rapid progress in livelihood building has enriched the content of rural governance and new factors for rural governance forces are changing the rural governance pattern. The rapid increase in public service supply has alleviated some crises related to the past governance issues, but rural governance has not turned around fundamentally, while new conflicts have emerged, making overall governance situation become more complicated. In addition, village amalgamation has brought forth some new issues caused by urban-rural coordination. First, the property right relationship of village-level collective properties; second, the identity system of citizens in new communities; third, the configuration of community-level Party and political institutions. Rural election over the past decade has seen no positive changes in the system basis and legal framework. Fundamental breakthroughs are not made in the two major restraints curbing villagers' self-governance, namely the relationship between Party and government bodies, and that between villages. However, the process of election has witnessed some positive changes in the following four aspects. First, election campaign mechanisms have evolved. Second, the election has become more authentic and competitive. Third, the competition means for election has become diversified despite lack of relevant standards and regulation. It is found through field survey that there exists a kind of automatic correction mechanism for election via bribery in villages, mainly in two cases: one is the villagers combat this kind of election in a tactical manner; the other is the candidates running in the election take the initiative to correct their mistakes. Fourth, political efficacy of election results has been remarkably improved and the legitimate authority of villagers' committee is enhancing. But how far can rural election go? It should be pointed out that there are some issues to be addressed relating respectively to villagers' self-governance and the Organic Law for the management of villagers' committee. If these problems are not properly solved, it would be difficult for the Organic Law to be enforced further. Generally speaking, the current villagers' self-governance is facing challenges and a complicated profile. The original system restraints curbing villagers' self-governance have not been removed, and the relations between Party committees and self-governance bodies and the relations between grassroots-level governments and village-level organizations are not yet straightened out. However, only after substantial changes take place in the macro-level, could reform of rural Party and government systems expect some kind of progress.

New Issues Relating to Village Governance