Jun 8, 2011

Independents on the Rise in China

From the Christian Science Monitor:
About 80 independent candidates for local Peoples' Congresses are using the power of social media in China to challenge the Communist party's lock on political office.  As local government elections get underway nationwide in China, a new breed of independent would-be politician is emerging to challenge the ruling Communist party’s near total stranglehold on political power. 
Harnessing the mobilizing power of social networking websites for the first time and attracting unprecedented attention to themselves, these candidates for local Peoples’ Congresses are posing a dilemma for the government.

“There appears to be some uncertainty and debate at the upper echelons [of government] about how to deal with this,” says Russell Leigh Moses, author of an upcoming book on the changing nature of power in China. . . . 
If China's one party state is unsure how to deal with the country's independent movement, is it really so unlikely that they might look to the US for potential models?  Judging from the state's initial response, it sounds like China might be modeling itself on California, where "independent" candidates are strictly speaking no longer allowed on the ballot, or perhaps Oregon, where a proposal was recently floated to prohibit the use of the word "independent" in the name of a political party.  Or is it perhaps the other way around?  From Xinhua:
China said Wednesday that there is no such a thing as an "independent candidate," as it's not recognized by law, amid ongoing elections starting this year of lawmakers at the county and township legislatures.

The Electoral Law stipulates that candidates for lawmakers at the county- and township- levels should be first nominated as "deputy candidate" and then confirmed as "official deputy candidate" in due legal procedures, said an official of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.

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