Monday February 26, 2024

‘Whole process democracy’ and Communist Party of China

October 03, 2022

China is gearing up for the 20th National Congress of Communist Party of China (CPC). National People’s Congress, which is being held after every five years, is a key pillar of CPC. Leadership from all over the country gathers at Beijing and evaluates past performance and deliberates on future course of actions.

Although, it is a permanent feature of CPC, but 20th National Congress is attracting special focus from within and out of country. It has ignited discussion and renewed the focus on Chinese political and governance system. Unfortunately, liberal democracies are criticising China without understanding the system. Liberal democrats need to recognise that every country has its own societal structure and preferences which compels countries to search for indigenous system in accordance with their own needs.

Thus, a single system, developed by a handful people, cannot acquire status of universality and same is true for the liberal democracy. So, liberal democratic model should not be used as yardstick to measure the democracy.

China, by exercising its right to choose, have developed its own model of democracy under the leadership of CPC with the name of Whole Process Democracy (WPD) by keeping in mind the demography and geography of the country. It is an outcome of evolution of Chinese civilisation and learning from the wisdom of elders like Confucius and Tao. Besides, CPC also investigated the era of Yellow Emperor for designing practical interventions. Yellow Emperor is famous for his pro-poor and inclusive style of governance.

The evolution process of WPD makes it a unique model. The analysis of WPD indicates that it has four distinctive characteristics which make it different from liberal democracy. First, it is inclusive in nature for the development and implementation of policies and actions. For example, development of Five-Year Plan starts two to three years before finalisation of plan. CPC and government invite inputs from all units of government, CPC, think tanks, political parties and netizens. It starts from lowest level and culminates at highest level. After compilation of inputs, draft is shared with National Congress, politburo and standing committee of politburo. Final draft is also discussed with other political parties. From 2017, government has started to share draft on internet to get wider inputs. Once all inputs are evaluated and best ones are incorporated, plan is finalised for implementation. Government (state representative) and CPC (people’s representative) work hand in hand to get the desired results.

Second, WPD gives immense importance to the election and procedures for the appointments of officials. The election process is comprehensive and rigorous. First of all, CPC makes sure that each body be treated equally and fairly irrespective of his/her position. Second, people should come through system and ranks and there should not be any shortcut or blue eyed choices.

CPC ensures that rules, merit and values be followed with true spirit. For example, President Xi had to apply 10 times to become member of CPC, despite the fact that he is the son of former deputy prime minister. Howbeit, after joining the party, due to his determination and hard work, he is now head of CPC and China.

It is germane to highlight here that election under the Whole Process Democracy is entirely different from liberal democracy. In contrary to liberal democracy, there are no candidates, so there is no contest or election campaign. CPC members vote on the basis of past performance of individuals, commitment to socialist values and communist ideology. It helped save financial resources and does not create division in the society in the name of political ideology. Third, continuity of interaction among all stakeholders is another distinct characteristic of Whole Process Democracy. President Xi gave a new impetus to consultation with all segments of society on regular basis. It is entirely opposite to liberal democracy where politicians consult people during the election days and present their slogans to attract vote.

After getting votes, they ask people to wait till next election if they are not happy with government policies. Fourth, WPD revolves around core socialist values which are designed to keep the system transparent, accountable, inclusive and pro-poor. It is in line with spirit and goal of CPC that leadership is here to serve the people not rule the people.

The key values for the people to sustain their position and grow in system are; collectivism, merit, capacity, selflessness and integrity. Recently, CPC has also introduced a new set of 12 core values comprising of prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendship.

Fifth, CPC is fundamental, vital pillar and guarantee of WPD. CPC acts on behalf of people and make sure that system delivers on its promises of welfare of people, rule of law and dignified living environment. In addition, CPC also provides quality leadership to run the system and ensure continuity to achieve the long-term goals.

In conclusion, we can infer from the above discussion that China’s model of Whole Process Democracy is based on 1) people’s will, 2) quality governance, 3) equal participation and opportunities to grow and move on the ladder of leadership, 4) inclusiveness and continuity, 5) strong mechanism of accountability.