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A Road Next to Democracy Jiahua CHE@CUHK Good economic policies require good governments, good governments require good mechanisms to establish them China’s communist party faces no political competition and is usually considered as dictator

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a road next to democracy

A Road Next to Democracy

Jiahua CHE@CUHK

Based on my working paper "A Road Next to Democracy" (2008)

slide2
Good economic policies require good governments, good governments require good mechanisms to establish them
  • China’s communist party faces no political competition and is usually considered as dictator
  • Yet, without democracy, without political competition
    • Why did the communist party of China embrace market reform?
    • Why was the communist party of China able to have a successful reform for three decades?
    • Why was the reform beneficial to the majority of the Chinese?
    • Why do the Chinese people think the nation is going in the right direction (86%), but at the same time most concerned about bureaucratic corruption (78%, 39%)
slide3
Premises of existing approaches
    • People are self-interested, politicians no exception
    • Politicians seek rent but long-term prospect of staying in power (to grab rent in the future) may offer incentives
      • Threat of being out of power (election/promotion): career concern
      • Being allowed to stay in power forever
  • A different approach:
    • Regime of many short-term governments with one succeeding another
    • Electing as selection instead of providing incentives
slide4
Premises of the different approach:
    • It is possible to have a “good” government not seeking rent
      • Most but not all are self-interested, there are “good” people fit to govern
    • Key: regime is a mechanism of government succession: electing “good” people to govern, one “good” government after another
    • Difficulty: information asymmetry
  • Different regimes addressing the difficulty differently
    • Democracy: bottom-up election (by general public)
    • Self-election: top-down(禅让)
slide6
Self-election and dictatorship:
    • Majority of stake-holders are not involved in electing the government
  • But self-election is more common than democracy in human societies
    • Feudal dynasties
    • Corporate leaders
    • Religious leaders
    • Journal editors
slide7
Pros and cons between self-election and democracy:
    • Self-replication

(most people are self-interested)

      • Raising the threshold of candidates for governing (electing the pope)
      • Ensuring continuity of social engineering
    • Polarizing performance: one bad government leads to another
slide8
Understanding China’s communist party regime
    • The hierarchy and the society
      • Core
      • Power level
      • Grass-root level
      • General public: most are self-interested, with a minority of “good” ones

Party

slide9
Core:
    • Collective leadership
    • Term limit
    • Overlapping generation
slide10
Power level with a pyramid hierarchy
    • Rank-wise promotion: no fast track
    • Evaluation at every rank
      • 监察,纪检,巡视,信访,上访
      • Role of providing incentives
    • Term limit, job rotation, and mandatory retirement
      • Creating space for promotion
slide11
Grass-root level: as reserve army
    • Early admission
    • Voluntary work
    • Amateur party member
    • Open access: people’s party
equilibrium corrupted sustainability
Equilibrium:腐而未败 (corrupted sustainability)

Core

Power level

Grass-root level

General public

slide13
China’s communist party regime as a self-electing succession mechanism
    • Internal logic
    • Electing good people under information asymmetry
    • Ensuring the continuity of social engineering
  • First step to understanding China’s political system
  • Exploring the maximum potential of self-electing succession mechanism
  • Shedding light on the future of China’s political reform and the reform of China’s communist party