China’s Quest for Political Reform: Inner Party Democracy or Constitutional Democracy? – Liu Junning

From China Elections and Governance:

The “inner-party democracy theory”, which advocates substituting general political democracy with inner-party democracy, is one of the political reform paths that attract most followers. One should not be overly optimistic if inner-party democracy is set as the priority goal of Chinese political reform, but any attempt towards constitutional democracy other than party reform adhering to democratic-centralism should be warmly welcome and embraced. If there is a final goal for Chinese political reform, it can only be constitutional democracy and nothing else.

Where is Chinese politics heading? Where is China’s political reform going? This is the very first question confronting China’s pending political reform. The fact that “political institution reform” has become a widely-accepted term reflects that the ruling party and the public have reached a consensus, the only consensus ever, that political reform is highly necessary. Different parties, however, hold different views about how this transition should be made. The divergence of ideas takes several routes: for instance the debate over gradual and radical reforms; the argument between centralism and federalism; the dispute over stock reform, which targets existing institutions, and flow reform, which seeks to bring change through the establishment of new institutions; the debate over inner-party democracy and constitutional democracy. Among these, the “Inner-Party democracy theory”, which advocates substituting general political democracy with inner-party democracy, is one of the approaches that attract most followers. Some people even hold that, among all the available solutions to problems in China, inner-party democracy is the most feasible and thus most promising way for China’s political future. [Full Text]

Liu Junning, a prominent Chinese political scientist and libertarian, is founder of the Cathay Institute for Public Affairs. Read also Property and Law: The Best Hope for China by Liu Junning.

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