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Community-level Democracy and Enforcement of Law-Based Governance


By Zhao Shukai,Development Research Center of the State Council

In reviewing China’s community-level democracy progress since reform and opening-up, we may find on one hand, the social foundation of democracy progress is rapidly expanding and numerous new forces are becoming the propeller for democratization, an impetus that is independent of correlated system arrangements whether they are made sooner or later; on the other, democratic development per se is eagerly calling for accelerated progress of the rule of law. Because as quite a few conflicts in reality show, when law-based forces are inadequate, the growth of democratic forces will bring disorder to political life or even to social life. In other words, the development of China’s community-level politics indicates that the rule of law is both an institutional resultof and the fundamental guarantee for democratic development. Therefore, the democratic development goes side by side with the progress of the law-based governance. Since reform and opening-up, China has witnessed rapid building of the rule of law and the legal system related to community-level democracy has been basically established. However, compared with rapid changes and development of social life and increasing needs of the people, the progress of the law-based governance for China’s community-level democracy is still markedly lagging behind. In terms of the actual operation of community-level democracy, problems relating to the legal system are prominently reflected in the following aspects: first, community-level governance lacks corresponding laws and regulations; second, laws and regulations for election of community-level deputies to people’s congress are to some extent not clearly interpreted; third, there are no clear laws and regulations relating to the transparency of community-level government affairs. In the practice of community-level democratic and political system building, the above-mentioned three issues including concepts and theories, rules and systems as well as actual implementation are organically related with each other. The main problem in current community-level democratic and political system building is reflected in the failure ofthe effective implementation of relevant rules and systems. Whether we can establish standard systems of democratic election, democratic policy-making, and democratic oversight over management and supervision to really ensure the people’s right to vote, to be informed about, to participate in and express their views about and to oversee government affairs in accordance with the law is a fundamental issue that has an important bearing on our future work and constitutes the basic driver for democratic development. It is believed that the government’s priority tasks should include first, revising and complementing the relevant parts of the present law and second, making new legislations such as the election law, the community-level self-governance law and the law for managing non-governmental organizations. Democratic politics, as the fundamental orientation of China’s political development, should be integrated into the overall objective and strategy of China’s modernization drive,and into the basic strategy of ruling the country by law and the fundamental goal of making the people masters of the country. Yet a high-level socialist democracy requires clear institutional guarantees as well as a sound rule of law as the institutional basis. Therefore, it is necessary to determine China’s strategic plan for community-level democratic politics based on a careful study of the status quo, including formulating main goals to develop democratic politics in different fields. In light of this prerequisite and the following requirements of the plan, we should give prominence to different focus of work in different periods, strengthen legislation and law enforcement, and promote sustained development of the law-based building for community-level democracy. With the development plan and strategic arrangements for democratic politics written into the law, we shall be able to encourage and lead the people in the set direction to advance step by step in an orderly manner and make innovations according to specific conditions. Otherwise, without a sound legal system and effective rule of law, the people may find it difficult to cherish stable expectations for democratic political development, some may have doubts about the prospects of development, and some may even lose confidence in the irreversible development of democratic politics.

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