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Special> NPC & CPPCC Sessions 2010> Latest
UPDATED: March 14, 2010
China's Parliament Adopts Amendment to Electoral Law

China's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), adopted here Sunday the amendment to the Electoral Law, which grants equal representation in legislative bodies to rural and urban people.

Lawmakers applauded after NPC Standing Committee Chairman Wu Bangguo announced that the amendment was approved with 2,747 votes from the 2,909 NPC deputies present at the closing meeting.

The amendment is regarded as part of China's efforts to narrow the urban-rural gap. It requires "both rural and urban areas adopt the same ratio of deputies to the represented population in elections of people's congress deputies."

Wang Zhaoguo, vice chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said the law provides legal guarantees for elections of deputies to people's congresses, the country's fundamental political system, as well as citizens' right to vote and the right to stand for election.

After the last amendment in 1995, the law stipulated that each rural deputy represented a population four times that of an urban deputy. Critics said this could be interpreted as "farmers only enjoy a quarter of the suffrage of their urban counterparts."

Before the amendment in 1995, the difference was eight times.

"Such stipulations were absolutely necessary and conformed with China's political system and the particular situation at that time," Wang said.

According to the 1953 national census, the urban population made up only about 13 percent. The rural population was much more than that of cities at that time and an equal ratio of rural and urban representation would have meant an excessive number of rural deputies.

With rapid urbanization and rural economic development, the proportion of urban population increased to 46.6 percent last year, he said, adding people's congresses at all levels have gone through many terms of elections, accumulating abundant experience.

"The time is right for equal representation," which is conducive to expand democracy, he said.

Wang said the amendment ensures "equal representation among people, regions and ethnic groups."

The amendment adds stipulations such as "organizing more face-to-face contacts between candidates and electors to allow deputy candidates to introduce themselves and answer voters' questions."

It says the setup of polling stations, convening election congress and the management of mobile polling boxes should be further standardized and improved.

It also suggests to set up "confidential polling booths" to root out bribery in elections.

Violence, threats, corruption and other acts that disrupts elections should be investigated and punished, it says.

The number of deputies to the NPC is limited within 3,000, and the distribution of the NPC deputies is decided by the NPC Standing Committee, according to the law.

(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2010)

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