Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Quietly Turning the Tide

It is heartening to see two independent candidates in China win elections at the grassroots level in Guangdong.
They were elected to a district people's congress in the southern Chinese province in a year that has seen an unprecedented number of candidates contesting polls across the country without Communist Party backing.
Guo Huojia, 59, from Xintiandi village, and 37-year-old Xiaxi village chief Li Youzhou won seats in Foshan's Nanhai district on September 28. Both have been involved in fighting for the rights of residents affected by illegal land grabs.
They are the first successful independent campaigners to emerge in what is seen as a break through year for independent candidates running for local legislatures. Previously there were sporadic candidates not linked to the Communist Party who ran for local congresses, but they hardly got any media coverage probably due to instructions from the top.
This year there were academics, journalists, bloggers, lawyers and farmers who ran and attracted a lot of attention and put on serious campaigns.
Guo began campaigning for land rights in 2007 and took the provincial land and resources department to court in August for allegations that it illegally permitted land development.
In his election, Guo won more than 2,000 votes over a government-backed rival. "I am still very excited that I was elected, even though I had expected victory," he said. "I will focus on the land issue and social welfare to better protect my people's interests."
China analysts say Guo's and Li's wins could mark a turning point in China's political evolution, and it has been a tough road for them, as many independent candidates have met interference from the authorities who have either disrupted campaigns or harassed them.
Some critics think it is too early to be optimistic as these local lawmakers may not be able to exert any real decision-making power. Local congresses are the lowest rung in the government structure and so they are relatively powerless bodies in the complex political system.
Nevertheless, in Chinese politics, any step forward for grassroots candidates -- and in particular independent ones -- is a giant step forward. And to see such a large number of people running without the support of the Communist Party shows they are tired of the one-party system and want to create change.
May the tide quietly rise and gather strength in numbers.

They have endured too much to let a victory like this go unnoticed.  

1 comment:

  1. a small step in the right direction , a giant step for democracy, a ray of hope.