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UPDATED: November 21, 2011 NO. 47 NOVEMBER 24, 2011
Foundation of Democracy

The election of China's new county- and township-level people's congresses has been underway since July this year. This is the first election after China amended its Electoral Law in March 2010, which grants equal representation in legislative bodies to rural and urban residents.

November 8 was the polling day for new people's congresses in Beijing's districts, counties and townships. On that day, 9.1 million people participated in the voting, 97 percent of the registered voters. The turnout is the highest in recent three elections. Judging from elections around the country, great progress has been made in guaranteeing voters' rights to know, to participate, to express and to supervise. The amended Electoral Law has greatly promoted grassroots democracy in China.

China's electoral system consists of direct and indirect elections. According to the Electoral Law, county- and township-level people's congresses are elected directly by their constituencies, while provincial people's congresses and the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, are elected by people's congresses at the next level down.

The ongoing elections will produce more than 2,000 county-level and 30,000 township-level people's congresses with more than 2 million deputies, which is bound to have a huge impact on the political landscape in China.

As is stipulated by the amended Electoral Law, people's congress elections now use the same ratio of deputies to the represented population in urban and rural areas, while in the past, the number of people that a rural deputy represented was four times that of an urban deputy. The law also states that election committees shall, upon request of voters, arrange meetings between deputy candidates and voters.

According to official statistics, more than 90 percent of registered voters cast their ballots in provinces and autonomous regions that have held people's congress elections. Election organizers have taken effective measures to ensure more floating people exercise their right to vote.

China still has a lot more to do in organizing elections. For instance, in some regions, voters are given no secrecy when writing their votes, and communication between deputy candidates and voters is far from sufficient. Also, some voters are not fully aware of their rights enshrined in the law.

A sound electoral system can arouse the enthusiasm of voters. Only when elections are in accordance with all regulations and original purposes of the Electoral Law, can the initiative of voters be brought up for giving out careful and responsible votes. And only in that way can real democracy be realized in the heart of every common Chinese.

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