China's urbanization has revitalized graßroots governance under which millions of villagers have become increasingly keen to participate in graßroots elections and influence decision making in their village affairs. To maintain its political legitimacy over a rapidly transforming society, the authoritarian party-state has progreßively promoted open, competitive graßroots elections in response to the increasing demand by villagers for more public participation. Based on in-depth field research in urbanizing villages in southern China, this article provides an empirical analysis of how the local state has adopted different interventionist strategies in elections to support villagers' active participation while sustaining its direct leadership over daily village governance. Our findings explain why the recent development of open and transparent graßroots elections is reinforcing the ruling capacity of the socialist state rather than enhancing self-governance and graßroots democracy, although villagers now have more opportunities to defend their economic and social rights through elections.
- public participation
- state intervention
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Political Science and International Relations