More rural deputies for local congresses

By Fu Wen Source:Global Times Published: 2011-5-9 17:30:00

Growing numbers of rural deputies in China's upcoming local people's congress elections will help narrow the rural-urban divide and ease social conflict at the grassroots level, experts said.

For the first time, rural candidates will represent the same number of residents as their urban counterparts in elections to choose people's congress deputies at county and township level, the Xinhua News Agency reported.  The elections in some areas got underway on Saturday.

Previously, each rural deputy represented a population four times the size of that represented by an urban deputy. This was interpreted by some as suggesting that "farmers only enjoy one-quarter of the suffrage of their urban counterparts."

"In the long term, more deputies are able to speak for rural residents in people's congresses, which is an effective way to communicate, resolve social conflicts in rural and urban areas and further narrow the rural-urban gap," Xu Guoli, a professor of administrative law at Nanjing University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

More than 2 million lawmakers at county and township level are to be elected during nationwide elections held every five years in more than 2,000 counties and 30,000 townships, according to figures provided by the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, the top legislature, the report said.

The statistics show that 600 million citizens will vote for township-level candidates and the number of people voting for lawmakers at county level will reach 900 million.

These are the first elections to be held after amendments to the Electoral Law adopted in March last year that require both rural and urban areas to adopt the same ratio of deputies to the represented population in elections for people's congress deputies, said the report.

"Equal election rights in rural and urban areas is a way of guarding equality granted by the constitution and also show improving political participation in China," Xu said.

The revision is also an important step in preparing institutions in order for China to join the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and integrate further into international society, Xu added.

The number of deputies who are workers, farmers, professionals, technicians and women is also going to rise in the coming elections to better reflect the diversity of voters nationwide, while the number of Party and government officials being elected as lawmakers will be further reduced, People's Daily reported on Sunday.

In a change from previous elections when voters were rarely able to interact with candidates, the revised Election Law stipulates that local election committees should arrange for candidates to meet voters and take their questions before this year's elections.

Posted in: China Watch

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