Since the full implementation of the “one-shoulder pole” policy in 2019, village secretaries are now expected to concurrently serve as village heads. Simultaneously, the question arises as to how village secretaries can be guaranteed to be elected as village heads– a process unexplored thus far. Drawing on an in-depth case study, this paper shows that the local government has adopted an approach I call “first democracy, then centralism” to ensure that village elections involve democratic elements, such as open nomination and candidate competition, yet also produce a designated winner who is, in the government’s view, most qualified to govern the village. Such an approach has generated two consequences on village elections: First, the significance of village Party elections has greatly increased. Since the result of village committee elections is already certain, village Party elections become the key phase that determines who will hold village office and in which candidates still have an opportunity to compete against one another. Second, it is now imperative for candidates to earn support and approval from the local government, otherwise they have no opportunity to win.

The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

Event Speakers

Tan Zhao

Tan Zhao

Tan Zhao is Assistant Professor at the School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University of China. His research interests include local elections, local government reforms, and rural governance. Zhao received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Washington.

Event details

Event date

Wed, 9 Aug 2023, 4 - 5:30pm

Event speakers

Tan Zhao