What did the Incident of Election of Deputies to the Peoples Congress in Qianjiang City Illustrate?

作者:Li Fan 发表时间:2006-2-28

November 28, 2003 was the time for the new term re-election of Fifth People"s Congress of Qianjiang City, Hubei Province, however, thirty-two self-recommended candidates failed the election, including Yao Lifa , a deputy to the Fourth People"s Congress of Qianjiang City. After the event, it became one of the public focus in China. The incident may create more significant social influence, thus it is worthy of discussing.

The Occurrence of This Incident

The new term re-election of the Fifth People"s Congress of Qianjiang City was to re-elect the 324 deputies to the People"s Congress, during the process of election, besides the candidates nominated by the concerning entities, Yao Lifa and the other 31 self-recommended candidates announced to participate in election campaign. These candidates became the preliminary candidates by way of self-recommendation plus 10 voters" support via joint signature, and then they launched a campaign. These electoral activities mainly included distributing the materials about introducing the candidates to the voters in the constituancy, and the legal provisions and regulations regarding election. The 32 self-recommended voters include deputies to the people"s congress of Qianjiang City and those of the township, among them teachers, directors of the villagers" committee, deputy secretary of Party branch of the village and workers were included, though these self-recommended were in the list of the preliminary candidates, however in the course of the subsequent procedure of "repeated consultancy and consideration", the majority of these 32 voters were almost removed from the course of consultancy, only two were left in the official shortlist. In the vote on November 28, these candidates all had voters to vote for them in the column of "voting someone else", but the final results were that these 32 candidates were not elected at all. Among them, two candidates in the column of "voting someone else" and the official candidates both failed the election because the ballots they got were less than the requisite half, originally according to the electoral regulations, the two candidate should participate in "another election" carried on subsequently as the official candidates, however the township election instruction group did not carry on that election, quoting the excuse that the voters did not have the "electoral will" but to "give up another election voluntarily", which abolished the deputies in these two constituancies. Thus, according to the final result, none of these 32 independent candidates was elected.

In terms of the survey on the locale and the concerning investigation afterwards, there were a lot of electoral problems arisen from the new term re-election of the People"s Congress of Qianjiang and the major problem was that the election was manipulated by some insiders within the Electoral Commission of Qianjiang City. The Electoral Commission of the Qianijiang City utilized a large number of unlawful approaches to manipulate the election during the process of election, especially there were more or less illegal or irregular acts emerged in the constituancies those 32 self-recommended candidate participated in. And these illegal ways were the major reason for the self-recommended candidates" failure. In fact, from the perspective of the 32 self-recommended candidates" own qualities and the degree to which the masses support, they all might not be elected as the deputies, but a fair and just electoral process might embody it no matter whether they could be elected as the deputies to the people"s congress, it should be decided by the voters " ballots, but the illegal manipulation of election had caused the election inequity. In terms of the investigation after the incident and the summary report, the illegal and irregular issues arisen from the election may be classified into 12 categories, including the division of constituancy, the distribution of deputy"s quota, the registration of voters, the illegal appointment of the chief and deputy leaders for the voter"s group, the joint signature of ten voters to recommend candidates, the procedure regarding the emergence of official deputy candidates and the illegal appointment of official candidates, issues concerning proxy voting, and mobile polling box, issues always existed in the voting process, issues regarding the fairness and independence of electoral organs and the attitudes of some concerning parties adopted in handling the illegal and irregular electoral activities, etc. And every one of the concrete contents of these illegal and irregular electoral issues will no longer be repeated here, however Yao Lifa"s survey report referred to the issue and the introduction I made in Special Issue No.5 of Background and Analysis may be referred to.

It is because of these reasons in the above-mentioned aspects that had caused the unfairness and inequity of the new term re-election of the People"s Congress of Qianjiang City, and it was a brazenly illegal election. During the process of voting, the illegal and irregular activities had already caused the discontent of the voters from each constituency, and some of them went to the city government to protest, and some expressed their discontent after the election.

Yao Lifa, according to the survey upon voters, collected and organized detailed information on practices breaking the law and regulations during elections. These illegal and irregular behaviors in the election were known extensively in the society by the report of the media, and aroused the attention from all walks of life. In the direct intervention of the secretary of Party of Hubei Province, the investigation group from the provincial People"s Congress launched an investigation on the case but the investigation result is still unknown at present. Yao Lifa decided to report the electoral situation to the National People"s Congress(NPC) directly in accordance with his own survey and the request of the voters", requiring the NPC initiate a special investigation procedure and appoint a special fact-finding committee to investigate the illegal and irregular activities arisen from the electoral incident in Qianjiang. Yao Lifa"s report got much support from most voters in Qianjiang, and they supported this report via joint signature.

Why Yao Lifa Lost the Election

Yao Lifa was elected as the deputy to the Fourth People"s Congress of Qianjiang in 1998. In his five year tenure, he, as a teacher, made a large amount of work for the interests of the residents, teachers, farmers and other ordinary people of Qianjiang. Some of his criticism on Qianjiang government in fact had great contribution to the standardization of governmental behavior and a government ruled by law. Therefore, Yao Lifa earned not only high reputation for himself, but also high reputation for Qianjiang. What should also acknowledge is that Yao Lifa made some mistakes in the past five year deputy life, sometimes he was anxious for success so as to create so many enemies, whereas he boasted of high popularity in Qianjiang in terms of the total situation. In the final vote, though Yao Lifa got 539 ballots in the municipal education system he belonging to, rank the third and in the end failed the election. But the result was questionable. Under a great deal of outside pressure, a lot of teachers belonging to education system did not dare to vote for Yao Lifa, which is one of the reasons. Though Yao Lifa did not get enough ballots in his constituancy, he got quite a lot of ballots in the vote of "voting someone else" in the other constituancies. For example, in the vote of Gardening Street Office constituancy, he won more than 800 ballots out of the 2,900 actual ballots. This constituancy was not the place Yao Lifa living in, whereas he could got so many ballots in this place by the way of “voting someone else”, which meant that Yao Lifa had very high prestige among the cadres and masses in Qianjiang. In the constituancy where the Qianjiang municipal government located, someone cast a vote for Yao Lifa in "voting someone else", all of which indicated that Yao Lifa had better social basis. Reflecting upon such a result, we may conclude that the 539 ballots Yao Lifa got was a bit abnormal in the municipal education system.

In recent years, what Yao Lifa had done not only did a lot of practical businesses for Qianjiang people, but also gradually cultivated the consciousness of rule of law and democracy among the civilians of Qianjiang, therefore some Qianjiang civilians, including teachers and farmers, et al. wanted to imitate the road of Yao Lifa running for the deputies to the people"s congress of the city or the town too, or director of villagers" committee, thus in this way a developing trend that the masses built up the rule of law and democracy spontaneously emerged in Qianjiang. This trend mostly conforms to the development of grassroots democracy, future reform of people"s congress at the grassroots level which was mostly triggered by the fact that some independent candidates ran for elections. The electoral participation of the 32 self-recommended candidates" is basically the total number of Beijing and Shenzhen in quantity; in view of quality, the emergence of such a large number of self-recommended candidates is the embodiment of further development of reform. In a sense, Qianjiang has become one of the places in which the development of the ordinary people"s democratic consciousness is the most sufficient at present. But to the leaders of Qianjiang City, it is not a good thing for them, they think. In their eyes, Yao Lifa had made them hard to bear. If there were 32 Yao Lifas appeared in the people"s congresses, which was what they could not accept at all. Even if in such cases, the leaders of Qianjiang municipal government did not hesitate to stop all these 32 candidates from being elected by all means. While facing the prestige of Yao Lifa and some others, if they wanted to get rid of these 32 candidates via totally lawful electoral procedure, that would be impossible, therefore, the Electoral Commission of Qianjiang did not hesitate to get rid of all these 32 candidates by illegal means. However, the result of getting rid of Yao Lifa and his peers was possibly just the other way round. After the election in Qianjiang, this election aroused numerous controversies, especially in the educational system where controversies were even greater. The actual result is that the authority and influence of the local authority and party committee"s is dropping, but that of Yao Lifa and likewise candidates have been enhanced, which has created an unstable political situation in the locality.

The Bottleneck of Development of Democracy at the Grassroots Level of China

The emergence of the Qianjiang electoral incident has indicated the two development trends at two different directions in the course of democracy at the grassroots level of China, and the two developing trends will not only determine the prospect of development of democracy at the grassroots level of China, but also have a far-reaching impact on the political development of China.

The development of the democracy at the grassroots level of China started from the election of rural villagers" committee in 1987, which had solved a series of theoretic problems hindering China"s democratic development in the practice of developing democracy among farmers, for example, could democracy be launched among the people of lower educational level? Could democracy be implemented in a background of economically underdeveloped? Could democracy be developed in a nationality without the historical background of democratic development, and etc? According to the identification of rural practice, the doubts described above have been overcome, and the development of democracy at the grassroots level has stood firm in the country, and has obtained further progress after the practice in the country. Based on the rural democracy at the grassroots level, one of the development trends of democracy at the grassroots level of China is upwards, aiming to the transition to the democracy at the township level; the other is going down town, promoted from the countryside to the city, and obtained development at the grassroots level in the city. These two directions have been both developed to some extent in practice at present, and they are basically successful.

The electoral reforms of the people"s congresses at the grassroots level of China appeared this year is a new field of development of democracy at the grassroots level of China, which have brought the development of the democracy at the grassroots level up to a new stage. The electoral reform at the grassroots level of China is the natural result of democratic development in the rural and urban communities at the grassroots level. After practicing the direct election of rural villagers" committee and communities at the grassroots level, a direct question is whether the election of deputies to the people"s congress at the grassroots level could also be reformed like the election at the grassroots level, implementing the direct election stipulated in the law in practice, under such circumstances, the electoral reform of the people"s congresses at the basic level is very natural. Many places had carried on the reform in the people"s congress at the township level in the past, some competitions appeared, and some ordinary voters became the deputies to the township people"s congress through the competition. Such a reform has begun in the urban areas now. According to the example emerged in practice, the reforms in Shenzhen and Beijing have improved the voter"s enthusiasm, and also have put forward some requirements for the electoral reform, all of which boast of positive significance. From the perspective of election procedures, the current election mechanism of people"s congress at the grassroots level is yet to step up the reform of election institution and procedures itself and meet the needs of future reform.

The electoral practice in Qianjiang undoubtedly pointed out the problems within the electoral procedure of the people"s congresses at the grassroots level, which reflected the necessity of electoral reform. The procedural arrangement of current electoral institutions of the people"s congresses at the grassroots level cannot meet the demand of the democratic development at the grassroots level already, through which the Electoral Commission of Qianjiang has exactly utilized the problem existed in this electoral procedure to manipulate the election willfully. Judging from the electoral incident emerged in the election of people"s congress in Qianjiang, we can conclude that the electoral institutions of the people"s congresses at the grassroots level must be reformed in order to adapt to the developing trend of democracy at the grassroots level of China, otherwise, the development of democracy at the grassroots level may be hampered.

But there is another direction in the development of democracy at the grassroots level of China, that is, there is a phenomenon in many places that the local governments or some interest groups are unwilling to see or trying to obstruct the development of democracy at the grassroots level in order to protect their own interests, and this kind of phenomenon exists massively. These phenomena are mainly reflected on the serious relationship between villages and towns at present. Township government is unwilling to lose its power and dominance, and therefore reluctant to implement regulations and laws enforced by Central Committee of CPC, which results in the continuous intervention of villagers" autonomy. In the urban communities, some street offices intervene the autonomy of the residents" committee at will in the same way, such as replacing the members of the committee who elected by the residents. Meanwhile, it seems that the direct election at the township level is very difficult to develop at present, and it is also difficult to practice large scale experiments in the near future, and the method of promoting the direct election of chief executive of township government may not be within the foreseeable prospect. All these make people feel that the development of the democracy has met serious hindrance that means the route of developing democracy at the grassroots level without the cooperation of political and democratic reform from the top to the bottom is questionable. The predicament may be the baseline of the approach to the development of democracy in China, or rather, the development of China"s democracy at the grassroots level.

The Qianjiang electoral incident may be the embodiment of this baseline. There were some self-recommended candidates who were elected in the electoral reform carried out in the election of the people"s congresses at the grassroots level in Beijing and Shenzhen, and these people only accounted for one or two out of the 300-odd deputies to the people"s congress only. In the election carried out in Qianjiang, if within the 324 deputies of the people"s congress of the city, the 32 self-recommend candidates were elected, which would only account for 10% in proportion. Only one Yao Lifa had already made the leaders of Qianjiang municipal government difficult to deal with, and the 10% deputies to the people"s congress would probably make them unable to deal with. In some people"s view, this kind of situation may involve the stability of political authority at the grassroots level; therefore they did not hesitate to stop these candidates from entering the people"s congress so as to maintain their vested interest in the best way. The Wu Haining Incident emerged in Nanshan District of Shenzhen was an illegal case indicating that some local government used all possible means to prevent Wu Haining from being elected. Therefore, though the Qianjiang Incident is an electoral event arisen from the election of deputies to the people"s congress in which some candidates were unreasonably eliminated from the competition, but from the macroscopic perspective, it may be involved in the sensitive vested interest issue in the reform of China"s political structure. Does this mean whether this is a bottleneck on another institution in the development of democracy at the grassroots level without the cooperation of reform from the top to the bottom? Or is it the baseline of the development of democracy at the grassroots level?

Several Problems to Be Solved

The Qianjiang electoral incident exposed the several unsolved problems in the development of democracy at the grassroots level of China, which are also the problems perplexing China"s democratic development as well. If these problems are not solved, they are certain to hamper the development of democracy at the grassroots level of China.

1 . Whether the Development of Democracy at the Grassroots Level Will Cause Political Confusion and Government to Be out of Control

In terms of the Qianjiang electoral incident, Qianjiang municipal government did not hesitate to prevent Yao Lifa and his like from being elected by all means, sometimes even by using illegal measures, and one of the open reasons is that the involvement of Yao Lifa and his like had made the politics of Qianjiang in chaos, influenced the outside image of Qianjiang, thus prevented the future development of Qianjiang. In the electoral mobilization meeting some people claimed that so long as Yao Lifa were not elected in public, investors might come to Qianjiang, and the economy of Qianjiang could develop, and the government might also increase the investment in education. According to their way of thinking, it is Yao Lifa that caused political turmoil over the past few years in Qianjiang. And because of that, some municipal orders were disrupted, image of the city smashed, and thus the economic development hindered.

Such an explanation, from the macro perspective, maybe comply with the reasons why some people in China claim that China can not practice democracy, because developing democracy would make China will fall into confusion. But the true situation is not so, what happened in Qianjiang would not lead to the situation at all.

What Yao Lifa did in Qianjiang was to safeguard the interests of the grassroots including the rights and interests of teachers and farmers, and he also struggled against some unreasonable and illegal affairs and procedures implemented by the government of Qianjiang, whose work had made the behavior of the government of Qianjiang normalized in a very important respect. Because of the existence of Yao Lifa and his public criticisms about some affairs, it has made the government of Qianjiang begin to pay close attention to the law, procedure and the result of policies these several years, as a matter of fact, it is because of the supervision of deputies to the people"s congress such as Yao Lifa and the interactivity of governmental behaviors that has make the spirit of rule by law developed in Qianjiang, and in the end, the democracy is developed. Some officials of Qianjiang privately acknowledged the behavior of Yao Lifa was beneficial to the policymaking procedure of Qianjiang municipal government. In fact, there has not been a turmoil these years in Qianjiang; the economy of the city has developed in a certain degree; the ordinary people"s complaints have been partly cleared up, and in fact the society has been stable.

The opinion that the democratic development will lead to social confusion is typical and universal, but it does not have such an evidence from the actual situation in Qianjiang. There were not such behaviors as surrounding the township government and protests lodged by more farmers in Qianjiang not because of the existence of Yao Lifa, but more farmers and grassroots citizens have picked up the legal instrument as a weapon to fight against the unreasonable policies and behaviors. The opinion that Yao Lifa and his like had aroused confusion is an unreasonable defense made by some intentional officials, who had already been accustomed to directly controlling the authority, enacting laws and policies at will and not accustomed to exercising their power under some people"s criticism and supervision, thus they have just tried to explain away this kind of phenomenon as confusion, which is utterly unjustifiable. Reasonable governance needs supervision and criticism, which is achieved in Qianjiang precisely because of the existence of people like Yao Lifa. However, these activities caused animosity of certain people who say one thing and yet do another, and they were labeled as chaos. The function of Yao Lifa and his like really played the role of supervision and criticism of the government, however Yao Lifa"s failure in the election made some people of the government very glad, feeling that they could live a free life, which was the authentic order in their eyes.

2. Establishing a “Republic” Situation of Co-governance and Double Win

A very important issue raised in the development of China"s democracy is that whether China really needs democracy? What kind of democracy is the democracy we need? Under such a big large frame, what on earth is the significance of the development of democracy at the grassroots level of China?

One of the directions of the development of China"s democracy is that the persons who support it are numerous, while the persons opposing it are also numerous. But in any case, a lot of people have already realized that the development of democracy in China cannot be stopped, which is the historical trend, and the world trends as well. As to these statements, it is probably that nobody is willing or really dares to object it. But a lot of people may say they do not oppose developing democracy, but it is not the right time to do it in the present situation in China, and the ordinary people have no consciousness and requirement of democracy. Such a reason needs not paying attention to, because the democratic process of China has already been taken off in fact, it will not stop because of some people"s opposition. The realistic conditions of Chinese society, economy, culture and politics have already expedited the emergence of and development of Chinese democratic process. There are also some people thinking that in China the development of democracy can be carried on, and they think they should promote the development of democracy, but according to the actual conditions in China, there should be China"s own roads in the development of the democracy. Then the question gets back to the one that the requirement of present Chinese situation must be answered, that is, how the democracy of China will be developed on earth. Some people think China should develop the democracy for minority of people for now, and then spread it towards a larger scale. The democracy they propose in present China should be the so-called "nobles"" democracy, and some think it should be the "elites"" democracy; some think this kind of minority"s democracy is not all right either, and what China should carry on is the "republic" democracy, which is the integrated democracy of the "noble”, the "elite" and the "masses".

In the present controversies about democracy, a lot of people think that because the grassroots are underdeveloped in culture and economy and of comparatively poor quality, thus the development of democracy should be practiced at the senior political level of China first, that is to say, that kind of democracy excludes the grassroots, but the democracy implemented among the so-called political "nobles" or political "elites". Some think that range should be expanded, and implement the democracy of elite including social elites. And the so-called social elites include intellectual circles and the elites from economical circles. And such kind of democracy, they think, may make the society equilibrium better. From the perspective of the developing route of democracy, the positive aspect of these viewpoints can be regarded as the considerations from China"s reality, and they really think the democracy participated by the grassroots at the basic level will cause the confusion of the whole society.

But these views do not accord with the current developing trends of the world and nor do with the reality of China. There are desirable places in these views if only seen from the perspective of the transitional theory of democratic development, but if the content, goal and actual process of democracy are included, the development of democracy in the present China may be comparatively difficult. According to the practice of democracy at the grassroots level of China, the ordinary people of China though do not know clearly what the concept and theory of democracy are, or may not answer the real meaning of democracy theoretically either, however they adopt the democratic method to safeguard their own rights and interests in practice, safeguarding the social justice, and have promoted the establishment and development of the democratic institutions in practice. Therefore after the many years" development of the democracy at the grassroots level having been promoted in China, after the participation enthusiasm of the grassroots has already been activated to a certain degree, and the grassroots have already felt the human rights and social justice can be promoted to some extent through the promotion of democracy, and if someone propose to exclude these people out of democratic movement of China, that will be regarded as ignoring the reality of China, and it is also a kind of behavior like backing a car. I"m afraid that it is already very difficult to be accepted by ordinary people at the grassroots level of China. The procedural order adopted at the beginning of the development of China"s democracy has been carried on through the from-the-bottom-to-the-top process of the democracy at the grassroots level, but not following the from-the-top-to-the-bottom process of the elite"s democracy. After having a choice between these two processes, it has been impossible to exclude the ordinary people from the sphere of democratic development already.

Yao Lifa, and the other 31 candidates represented the grassroots, and they were the masses at the grassroots level, among whom many ordinary farmers and workers were included. In some local cadres" eyes, these people were sloppily dressed, bad-looking, and how could they enter the palace of "parliament" to talk about politics with the "noble" and the "elite"? But the reality of the democracy at the grassroots level of China has already indicated that it is impossible to repel these grassroots outside as China"s politics develops. The phenomenon of entering the election by active self-recommendation emerged in the Qianjiang electoral incident indicates that some ordinary people at the grassroots level in some parts of China began to safeguard their own rights and interests by positive and lawful means to participate in the political course. Thus, the "noble" democracy and the "elite" democracy both do not accord with the reality of China, and the reality of China is to set up a "republic" situation shared with and managed by all the social strata so as to create the route of China"s democratic development through everybody"s participation in concert.

3. How the Masses at the Grassroots Level Participated in the Democratic Process

We can not merely discuss the concept of "republic" democracy in the reality of China, but we must solve the practical problems, that is, how to activate the grassroots to participate in course of political development.

From the viewpoint of practice, at present there are several routes for the masses at the grassroots level to safeguard their own rights and interests, maintain social justice and participate in the policy-making process: first, through the election and management organized by the masses at the grassroots level, which refers to the election of the rural villagers" committee and the election of residents" committee of the urban communities and the self-management after the elections. This approach is the general participation method of the grassroots at present and have already made great achievement, but it also has great limitation; second, through the struggle for community"s rights and interests, which refers to the struggles arisen from the right-safeguarding measures employed by the urban community residents in the past several years with the real estate corporations and those with the governmental organs behind the real estate corporations. This situation has already caused extensive disputes in all parts of the country; according to the practice of the development of the situation, the right-safeguarding actions taken by the owners had directly led to the development of democracy; third, through the establishment of the NGOs, the social masses launch self-organized activities through appealing, direct participation and the influence of media and some other measures so as to influence the policy-making process of the government policy. These activities launched in recent years involving environmental protection, the safeguarding of rights and interests of disadvantaged groups, legal aid, public social service and HIV/AIDS assistance appeared recently.

Besides the above-mentioned three kinds of participation of the grassroots, there is another route through the election of the people"s congresses participated by the masses emerged in some parts of the country this year. This development and change are not started this year, but in view of the public opinion and requirement, they have formed an extensive and effective appeal this year, demanding to carry on the reform of people"s congresses at the basic level. The reform of the people"s congress at the basic level will provide a direct chance of participating in the decision-making process for the broad masses, and thus form a supervising and standardizing behavior for the government in this course, which is a good beginning. What implemented in the people"s congress at the basic level is the direct electoral system, through which the grassroots can be sent to the people"s congress to discuss the policy directly. That will be beneficial to the development of politics and the construction of democracy in China. In fact, the Qianjiang electoral incident is the demonstration of such a course, however the setback encountered in the Qianjiang electoral incident proves that it is difficult open the gate of political participation.

4. Enhancing the Pilot Reform of People"s Congresses at the Grassroots Level

The reform of the people"s congress at the grassroots level and the masses" participation in election and governments" decision-making process may be an important stage improving the development of democracy, thus it needs considering conscientiously. The reform of the people"s congress at the grassroots level is at the initial stage, and more feasible methods is to be carried on the reform of the electoral institution of the people"s congress at the basic level, and take hold of such an opportunity to further expand the reform of the people"s congress at the grassroots level.

However, there are some risks in promoting the reform of the people"s congress at the grassroots level, therefore, in accordance with the consistent method in the past reform in China, expanding the reform of the functions of the people"s congress at the grassroots level will lead to some pilot reforms launched in some places at home first. Now the theory circle and the policy-making circle have obviously different controversies over the expansion of democracy at the grassroots level. Some think that it will cause the social confusion, and that the grassroots cannot develop good democracy; others think that it is OK to expand democracy at the grassroots level and that does not need be too scrupulous. Though these two kinds of considerations are both reasonable, however they have not been proved by past practice. Therefore, a better method is to choose some places to carry on the pilot reform of expanding democracy at the grassroots level of China.

The reform in the electoral system of the people"s congress at the basic level should begin from the experiment. The institutions concerning nomination, creation of candidates, election, voting and ballot-counting shall be reformed in the electoral reform. A better choice is to loosen the nomination institution by way of self-recommendation plus ten voters joint signature so as to bring about preliminary candidates. If there are so many preliminary candidates, the method of "repeated consultancy and consideration" shall not be reused in the course of the production of candidates, which can be solved via preliminary election. The method of preliminary election in the election of urban communities at present has adopted the way of voting through the residents" representatives. This way can be considered in the election of the people"s congresses at the grassroots level. But the election of the people"s congress should take the traditional “systematic” election into consideration, and it is unsuitable to walk too fast, therefore some other ways may be considered. After the candidates are produced, they may be allowed to carry on electioneering, including putting up electoral posters in the precinct, visiting the resident"s family and the voter"s unit, and delivering the speech as well. In the reform of voting process, the number of proxy votes may be reduced; mobile polling box may be reduced or canceled; the institution of drawing the ballots secretly may be employed in voting and all the voters shall draw their ballots in the secret ballot booth. At the end of voting, the ballots shall be counting openly and publicly, and the result of election shall be announced in no time.

At the end of the election, no matter how the deputies to the people"s congress of this precinct are composed, no matter who is elected, which shall continue trying for 5 years so as to see what kind of issues will emerge in the decision-making process, supervising the government, representing the masses" interests and the legal construction of the people"s congress in these experimental places on earth. Then the decision on whether such a reform is worth promoting or whether it can be spread can be made in accordance with the practical result. If the result is really better, it should be spread without the least hesitation.

The development path of China"s democracy will not go smoothly, just like the Qianjiang electoral incident. But if safeguarding the social justice, maintaining social stability, insisting on the principle of rule of law, advancing in the direction of sticking to democracy and concerted governance, it can not only solve the problems emerged in Qianjiang, but also those emerged on China"s democratic development path as well. These might be the lessons learned from the Qianjiang electoral incident, and in this way will the Qianjiang electoral incident never hinder the development of China"s democracy and legal construction.

This essay first appeared in Background and Analysis (World and China Institute ed.), No. 66, , December 25, 2003