Full Text: Explanation on China's draft amendments to electoral law

18:58, March 08, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

The following is the full text of the Explanation on the Draft Amendments to the Electoral Law of the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses of the People's Republic of China delivered by Wang Zhaoguo, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Third Session of the 11th NPC here on Monday:

Fellow Deputies,

I have been entrusted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) to explain the Draft Amendments to the Electoral Law of the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses of the People's Republic of China.

I. Necessity of amending the Electoral Law

The electoral system is the foundation of the system of people's congresses. The Electoral Law is an important law which guarantees citizens the right to vote and the right to stand for election and which produces deputies to the people's congresses at all levels in accordance with the law. The Electoral Law was first enacted in 1953, revised in 1979, and it has been amended four times since then. At the Seventeenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), it was proposed that we should firmly develop socialist democratic politics, expand the people's democracy, and ensure the people are the masters of the country. It was also suggested that we should gradually achieve the goal of electing deputies to people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas. In order to implement the requirements put forward at the Seventeenth National Congress, it was necessary to appropriately revise the Electoral Law on the basis of a review of our practical experience of elections.

The ratio of urban to rural population for electing a deputy to a people's congress is an important part of the Electoral Law. After the founding of New China and when the first electoral law was enacted in 1953, the urban population in China was relatively small - only 13.26% according to the 1953 national census. Given that the working class was mainly concentrated in cities at that time, in order to reflect the leading position of the working class in national political life and the orientation toward industrial development, the Electoral Law included differing regulations on the number of people needed to elect a deputy in rural and urban areas. For instance, the regulations for electing an NPC deputy stipulated that each province could elect one deputy for every 800,000 people, and municipalities directly under the central government and cities under the jurisdiction of provincial governments with a population of more than 500,000 people could elect one deputy for every 100,000 people. Such stipulations were absolutely necessary and conformed with China's political system and the particular situation at that time. When the Electoral Law was revised in 1979, the urban population had reached 18.96%. As a result, the 1953 stipulations basically remained in place and no big changes were made with respect to electing deputies to people's congresses based on different population ratios in urban and rural areas; however, the stipulations on ratios for people's congresses at different levels were clarified: the ratio was stipulated as eight to one for the NPC, five to one for people's congresses of provinces and autonomous regions, and four to one for people's congresses of counties and for autonomous prefectures and counties.

Since implementation of the policy of reform and opening up, China's economy and society have developed rapidly, urbanization has moved ahead unceasingly, and the urban and rural population composition has changed considerably. Based on the new circumstances and new situation, the NPC Standing Committee has made timely improvements to the electoral system and has amended and improved the provisions on electing deputies to people's congresses based on different population ratios in urban and rural areas. When the Electoral Law was revised in 1982, the following provision was added: in counties or autonomous counties which have towns with exceptionally large populations or enterprises and institutions whose workers and staff account for a relatively large proportion, the ratio between the number of people represented by a rural deputy and the number of people represented by a town deputy or a deputy from an enterprise or institution may, subject to a decision by the standing committee of the people's congress of the province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the central government, be smaller than four to one, even one to one. When the Electoral Law was revised in 1995, the ratio of rural population to urban population represented by a deputy to the NPC or to the people's congress of the province or autonomous region was amended as four to one, the same as autonomous prefectures and counties.

Since 1995, China's industrialization and urbanization have accelerated further, the economic and cultural level in rural areas has increased dramatically, and profound changes have taken place in the social structure. The urban population in China has increased from 29.04% in 1995 to 46.6% in 2009. At the same time, people's congresses at all levels have gone through many terms of elections, accumulated abundant experience, achieved enormous results in developing socialist democratic politics and a socialist legal system, and the class base and mass foundation for the people's democratic dictatorship led by the Party has been consolidated and expanded. The objective conditions are in place for revising the Electoral Law and electing deputies to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas.

II. Guiding Ideology and Formation of the Draft Amendments to the Electoral Law

The guiding ideology for the draft amendments to the Electoral Law was: to take Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents as our guide; thoroughly apply the Scientific Outlook on Development; and review practical experiences, improve the electoral system, elect deputies to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas, better reflect the principles of equality among people, regions and ethnic groups, spread the people's democracy, ensure the people are the masters of the country, and provide a solid, systematic guarantee for upholding and improving system of people's congresses as well as for developing socialist democratic politics in accordance with the requirements of the Party's Seventeenth National Congress.

We adhered to the following principles when drafting the amendments. One, we maintained the correct orientation, and expanded democracy. The Electoral Law is politically significant. When revising it, we maintained a correct political orientation; intimately integrated the leadership of the Party, the position of the people as the masters of the country, and the rule of law; adhered to the political development path of socialism with Chinese characteristics; and persisted in proceeding from China's particular conditions and realities. With the noble view that the people's democracy is the lifeblood of socialism, we improved the electoral system, further improved the universality and equality of elections of deputies to the people's congresses, and conscientiously ensured that the people are the masters of the country. Two, we concentrated on key areas and took all factors into consideration. The focus for the amendments to the Electoral Law was to implement the requirement proposed by the Party's Seventeenth National Congress that deputies be elected to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas, and at the same time, stay mindful of the other necessary amendments to the Electoral Law. The amendments to the Electoral Law are a self-improvement to and development of the socialist electoral system with Chinese characteristics. The amendments need to be adapted to economic and social development, proceed step by step, and gradually improve. Three, we were active yet prudent, and dealt with each problem separately. We carried out thorough research on widespread problems that arose during the implementation of the Electoral Law, and when conditions are ripe and agreement has been reached, we will implement the amendments accordingly. Regarding problems for which conditions are not yet in place to solve them, we will provide no stipulations for the time being and continue to explore solutions through practice.

Beginning in 2008, the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee set about researching amendments to the Electoral Law based on the work arrangements of the Standing Committee. It studied and sorted out the proposals and suggestions of NPC deputies on amendments to the Electoral Law made in recent years as well as opinions from other quarters; formed investigation teams with the relevant authorities and went to eight provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government to carry out investigations and studies, and held meetings attended by responsible persons of people's congresses of thirty-one provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government and by relevant departments of the central government, with a focus on listening to opinions on the issue of electing deputies to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas; and made profound analysis and repeated demonstration with respect to the issue of electing deputies to people's congresses based on the same ratio of population in urban and rural areas.

The draft amendments to the Electoral Law were formed on the basis of conscientiously sorting out proposals and suggestions of deputies, comprehensive investigations and studies, and listening to a wide range of opinions. In October 2009, the draft amendments were first deliberated at the Eleventh Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Eleventh NPC. After the meeting, the draft amendments were printed and distributed to the relevant departments of the central government, every locality, and relevant quarters for their comments, and revisions and improvements were made to the draft amendments based on the opinions of members of the Standing Committee during their deliberation and the opinions from all quarters. The draft was again deliberated at the Twelfth Meeting of the Standing Committee in December 2009. The draft amendments were fully affirmed and highly praised during deliberation at the two meetings of the Standing Committee. The members of the Standing Committee and the attendants without voting rights universally approved the guiding ideology and main principles for the current revisions and agreed with the amendment proposal that deputies to people's congresses should be elected based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas, and that an appropriate number of deputies should be guaranteed for each region, ethnic group, and sector of society. After deliberating twice, the Standing Committee decided the draft amendments should be submitted for deliberation and approval at the Third Session of the Eleventh NPC.

On January 8, 2010, the General Office of the NPC Standing Committee distributed the draft amendments to the Electoral Law to NPC deputies as per the statutory procedure. The deputies carried out earnest research and discussions on the draft amendments to prepare for its deliberation. The deputies universally believe that the draft amendments conform to the guiding principles of the Seventeenth National Congress of the CPC, are in accord with the realities of China's economic and social development, can better embody equality among people, regions and ethnic groups, and will help to further spread people's democracy and ensure that the people are the masters of the country. Based on the opinions of Standing Committee members raised during deliberation and the opinions of deputies put forward during their discussion, we made further revisions to the draft; thus forming the draft amendments to the Electoral Law which would be submitted for deliberation and approval at this session.

III. Main Contents of the Draft Amendments to the Electoral Law

1. Electing deputies to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas

In accordance with China's state system and political structure, the following principles and requirements shall be reflected in electing deputies to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in both urban and rural areas. One, to guarantee the equal right of all citizens to vote. Electing deputies based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas reflects equality among people. Two, to guarantee the equal right of all localities to participate in the organs of state power. Every administrative area, regardless of the size of its population, should have the same base number of deputies and be able to elect a fixed number of deputies to reflect equality among regions. Three, to guarantee an appropriate number of deputies for every ethnic group. Ethnic groups with the smallest populations must also have one deputy in order to reflect equality among ethnic groups. These "three equalities" are intrinsic requirements of China's state system and political structure and are an organically integrated whole. We cannot emphasize anyone of them while ignoring the other two. Furthermore, appropriate consideration should be given to those regions where representative figures in all sectors of society are relatively concentrated.

In view of the above, we propose that the provisions in Article 16 of the Electoral Law on the allocation of the number of deputies to the NPC be revised to read, "The number of deputies to the National People's Congress shall be allocated by its Standing Committee on the basis of the population of each province, autonomous region and municipality directly under the central government, and in accordance with the principle that each deputy represents the same number of urban or rural people and the requirement guaranteeing an appropriate number of deputies for every region, ethnic group and sector of society." "The number of deputies to the National People's Congress to be elected from a province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the central government shall be determined by the size of its population, the base number which is the same for every region, and the number of deputies that should be elected for other reasons." "The specific allocated number of deputies to the National People's Congress shall be decided by its Standing Committee." (Article 6 of the draft amendments)


Articles 12, 13 and 14, which prescribe the allocated number of deputies to the local people's congresses, are merged as one article and are revised to read, "The number of deputies to local people's congresses shall be allocated by the standing committees of people's congresses or the election committees at the same level on the basis of the populations of the administrative areas at the next lower level or the populations of the electoral districts in their own administrative areas and in accordance with the principle that each deputy represents the same number of urban or rural people and the requirement guaranteeing an appropriate number of deputies for every region, ethnic group and sector of society. In people's congresses of counties and autonomous counties, there shall be at least one deputy representing townships, ethnic minority townships, or towns with an exceptionally small population." "The measures for allocating the number of deputies to the local people's congresses shall be formulated respectively by the standing committees of people's congresses of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government according to the measures for allocating the number of deputies to the National People's Congress and based on their specific local conditions."(Article 5 of the draft amendments)

The provisions of Article 25 on the number of people represented by each deputy directly elected from an electoral district, is revised to read, "The number of people represented by each deputy from an electoral district in a given administrative area shall generally be the same." (Article 7 of the draft amendments)

It should be explained here that a two step solution has been taken to solve the problem of allocating the number of deputies to the NPC, which is related to electing deputies to people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas. The first step is to concentrate efforts, and amend and improve the Electoral Law well. The second step is, after amendments to the Electoral Law are completed, to scientifically and rationally allocate the number of deputies to the NPC according to the principles determined by the Electoral Law, on the basis of widely solicited opinions, after overall consideration, and as decided by the NPC Standing Committee.

2. Other main contents of the draft amendments to the Electoral Law

1) On the generality of representation of deputies to the people's congresses

Some members of the NPC Standing Committee and some localities have suggested that it should be further clarified that among deputies to the people's congresses at all levels there are a certain number of deputies who are workers, farmers and intellectuals at the primary level. In view of the above, we propose the following provision be added: "Deputies to the NPC and the local people's congresses shall be broadly representative, and there shall be an appropriate number of deputies at the primary level, especially from among workers, farmers and intellectuals." (Article 1 of the draft amendments)

2) On election institutions

Some localities and some deputies have pointed out that election committees are the organizing and leading bodies for the election of deputies to people's congresses at the county and township levels, and they play a vital role in the direct election. 'These localities and deputies also suggest further improving the organizational bodies for elections in accordance with the Provisions for the Direct Election of Deputies to the People's Congresses at or Below the County Level which was adopted by the NPC Standing Committee in 1983. On these grounds, we propose a chapter entitled "Organizational Bodies,"which provides specific provisions on the creation, withdrawal, duties, and work requirements of election committees, be added as Chapter II. (Articles 2 and 3 of the draft amendments)

3) On the numbers of deputies to people s congresses of townships and towns

Some localities have pointed out that in recent years large-scale mergers of townships and towns have taken place in some areas and the populations of townships and towns have increased considerably, with some having populations of more than 100,000 or even 200,000 people. The total number of deputies to people's congresses of townships and towns should not exceed 130, as stipulated in the Electoral Law, is clearly too low. In view of the above, we propose to raise the upper limit of the number of deputies to the people's congresses of townships and towns, and revise subparagraph 4 of paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Electoral Law on the upper limit of the number of deputies to the people's congress of a township or an ethnic minority township or town. The provision which reads, "the total number of its deputies shall not exceed 130" is revised to read, "the total number of its deputies shall not exceed 160." (Article 4 of the draft amendments)


4) On the issues of personal information of deputy candidates and of deputies representing two regions

In light of new situations and problems arising during local electoral practices, some deputies and relevant departments have suggested that it should be clearly stipulated that deputy candidates to the people's congresses must submit such information as whether they have obtained a permanent right of abode in a foreign country or a foreign nationality; and that relevant measures should be stipulated for dealing with the case where a deputy provides untruthful personal information, to ensure the voters' or deputies' access to genuine information. It should also be clarified whether a citizen can be a deputy to two people's congresses of different regions. In view of the above, we propose two provisions be added. The first reads, "Recommended candidates for deputies shall provide basic information such as personal identification and a curriculum vitae to the election committee or the presidium of the people's congress. Where a deputy provides untruthful basic information, the case shall be announced to the voters or other deputies." (Paragraph 1 of Article 8 of the draft amendments) The second reads, "A citizen shall not be deputy to two or more people's congresses in administrative areas which are not subordinate to each other." (Article 16 of the draft amendments)

5) On the number of recommended deputy candidates

Some localities have pointed out that when political parties and people's organizations jointly or separately recommend deputy candidates, there are different understandings in practice and different methods regarding whether the number of recommended candidates should be decided on the basis of a competitive election or single-candidate election, and that this should be clarified. In view of the above, we propose the following provision be added: "The number of deputy candidates recommended by political parties and people's organizations either jointly or separately, or by each voter or deputy through signing up as a group for recommendation, shall not exceed the number of deputies to be elected in the electoral district or electoral unit." (Paragraph 2 of Article 8 of the draft amendments)

6) On meetings between deputy candidates and voters

Some localities have pointed out that in primary-level elections, introductions to the backgrounds of deputy candidates are too brief, which affects the enthusiasm of voters. They suggest strengthening the organization of meetings between deputy candidates and voters to increase voters' understanding of deputy candidates. In view of the above, we propose that the relevant provisions of Article 33 of the Electoral Law be revised to read, "Election committees shall, upon request of voters, arrange meetings between deputy candidates and voters to allow deputy candidates to introduce themselves and answer voters' questions." (Article 11 of the draft amendments)

7) On guaranteeing the right to vote of voters and deputies

In light of violations of statutory procedures arising during primary-level elections, such as preventing voters and deputies from freely exercising their right to vote, some localities have pointed out that we should emphasize that electoral work must strictly abide by electoral procedures to guarantee voters and deputies can exercise their right to vote in accordance with the law. In view of the above, we propose the following provision be added: "The election of deputies to the National People's Congress and local people's congresses shall be conducted strictly in accordance with statutory procedures and be subject to supervision. No organization or individual shall, by any means, interfere with voters or deputies in freely exercising their right to vote," (Article 12 of the draft amendments)

8) On organization of the election procedures for voting during direct elections

Some localities have pointed out that in order to facilitate voters in exercising their right to vote, the setup of polling stations and convening of election meetings should be further standardized and the management of mobile polling boxes should be improved. In view of the above, we propose the following provision be added: "Election committees shall set up polling stations and conduct elections based on the distribution of voters in each electoral district and in accordance with the principle of facilitating voters to vote. If the voters live in a relatively concentrated area, the election committee may hold an election meeting to conduct the election. Voters who have difficulty moving around due to illness or other reasons, or who are dispersed over wide areas and transportation for them is inconvenient may cast their votes in mobile polling boxes." (Paragraph 2 of Article 13 of the draft amendments)


9) On the procedures for accepting the resignation of deputies

Article 49 of the Electoral Law stipulates the procedures for deputies to resign. Some localities have pointed out that the Electoral Law fails to stipulate who should accept deputies' resignation and which procedures should be followed when deputies resign; therefore, there is no unanimous practice among localities. They suggest relevant supplementary provisions be added. In view of the above, we propose the following provision be added as related supplementary content. With regard to deputies to the people's congresses elected through indirect elections, "The acceptance of resignations by standing committees shall be subject to a majority vote by their members. Resolutions on accepting resignations shall be submitted to the standing committee of the people's congress at the next higher level for the record and for announcement." With regard to resignations of deputies to the people's congresses at the county or township level, the standing committees of the people's congresses at the county level or the people's congresses of townships may respectively accept their resignations. "The acceptance of resignations by standing committees of the people's congresses at the county level shall be subject to a majority vote by standing committee members. The acceptance of resignations by people's congresses of townships shall be subject to a majority vote by deputies to the people's congress. After resignations are accepted, an announcement shall be made."(Article 19 of the draft amendments)

10) On investigating and dealing with behavior that disrupts elections Some members of the NPC Standing Committee and some localities have suggested that in order to promptly and effectively investigate and handle violence, threats, corruption and other behavior that disrupts elections, the organ responsible for investigating and handling such matters and its duties should be clarified. In view of the above, we propose the following provision be added: "The organ presiding over the election or other relevant organs shall, upon finding or receiving a report on acts disrupting an election, investigate and deal with the cases in a timely manner in accordance with the law; where necessary, they shall transfer such cases to the departments concerned for handling." (Article 20 of the draft amendments)

In addition, on the basis of suggestions from some localities and relevant sectors of society, the draft amendments make supplementary improvements to such content as the construction of confidential polling booths, and that a person entrusted to vote on behalf of another person should obey that person's voting wish.

One more issue requires explanation here. Some members of the NPC Standing Committee and localities have proposed that explicit provisions be made on the issue of how the floating population, composed mainly of rural migrant workers in cities, participate in direct elections in the counties or towns where they work. After researching this issue, we believe it involves many areas and is complex. Reform of the residence registration system is proceeding, and the conditions are not yet in place to solve this issue; therefore, the amendments to the Electoral Law will not make provisions at this time. Localities may, in accordance with the guiding principles of the documents regarding the work on elections for new terms of office in people's congresses, take effective measures to ensure the right of the floating population, such as rural migrant workers in cities, to vote and to stand for election.

Fellow Deputies,

In accordance with the principle of "three equalities" and the realities of China's economic and social development, electing deputies to the people's congresses based on the same population ratio in urban and rural areas is an important step in upholding and improving the system of people's congresses and also a major move in developing socialist democratic politics. It will further guarantee the right of urban and rural residents to vote on an equal footing, and promote the continued development of human rights in China. It carries profound historical significance in fully bringing into play the enthusiasm of all sectors of society, in making a unified plan for the balanced development of urban and rural areas, and in promoting social harmony. Let us deliberate the draft amendments to the Electoral Law with a high sense of political responsibility and mission.

I invite you to deliberate the Draft Amendments to the Electoral Law of the National People's Congress and local People's Congresses of the People's Republic of China as well as the above explanation.

Source: Xinhua
  • Do you have anything to say?

双语词典
dictionary

  
Special Coverage
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Manuscript of Einstein's Theory of Relativity exhibited in Israel
  • Blast targets security office in Pakistan's Lahore, 11 killed
  • Hundred-year-old woman grows horn in forehead
  • Job fairs held in Nanjing for female university students
  • Ahmadinejad: Sept.11 attacks "big lie"
  • 6,000 birds compete for prizes
Most Popular
Hot Forum Dicussion