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People’s Participation in China’s Grassroots Democratic Development


By Zhao Shukai, Development Research Center of the State Council

Whether the people could participate in political affairs in wider areas and on a larger scale are gauges for measuring democratic development level. Today more and more people have participated in the political process in a growing number of ways and channels. The process of people’s participation has become increasingly institutionalized, which is the basic logic of democratic political development. Since the launch of reform and opening-up, China’s grassroots democracy has made great success. The development of rural villagers’ self-governance and direct election of county and village-level deputies to the same-level people’s congress are major achievements of China’s grassroots democratic advance. However, viewing China’s grassroots democracy from the perspective of people’s participation, it is not hard to find that democratic political development is facing serious challenges. Above all, the systematic arrangements for people’s participation are inadequate. In terms of the actual operation of the system, people’s participation in different fields and at different posts is quite imbalanced. Some systematic arrangements are not truly implemented and some systematic channels are not smooth for people’s involvement. Second, people have become more spontaneous to get involved. With the formation of a diversified social benefit pattern, the expression of appeals and protection of rights and interests has become the realistic demand of the masses. When such a demand is turned into actions such as various forms of spontaneous participation, people would raise new requirements for grassroots democracy. Last but not the least, expanding the scale of people’s participation is the focus of grassroots democratic development. China is in the process of rapid modernization where people’s requirements for participation in political affairs are changing and new social elements and professional groups are emerging. Catering to people’s participation requirements and establishing an effective system for people’s participation could not only facilitate people’s involvement in an orderly manner, but also make their involvement become more adaptive to the system, thus serving as an important test for the construction of grassroots democratic system.

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