Article 4 of the Common Program
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Article 4 of the Common Program

The people of the People's Republic of China shall have the right to elect and to be elected according to law.


The organic law of the CPPCC allows the possibility of setting up political consultative conferences in major cities, important areas and provincial capitals. These political consultative conferences have the right to elect a local government. At the end of 1951 political consultative conferences have gathered to elect local government in 28 provinces, 8 administrative regions, in 154 cities, in 2043 districts and in 104 districts of minorities. These elections sometimes take place in very fast time schedule. On December 9, 1949 the PLA marches into Urumqi and 8 days later a new government is elected.
On January 13, 1953 the regime announces that at the end of that year the first elections for the National People’s Congress (NPC) will be held. This NPC will be a legislature parliament. See also Article 12 .
On March 1, 1953 the first election law is enacted. It states “..all citizens with the exception of reactionaries and non-people of the People’s Republic over the age of 18 … the right to vote and to be elected to office, regardless of nationality or race, sex, occupation, social status, religious belief, educational level, wealth, or residency,” and further guaranteed that local people’s congresses would be directly elected by the people.4”
Zhang Jishun (2014). Creating “Masters of the Country” in Shanghai and Beijing: Discourse and the 1953–54 Local People's Congress Elections. The China Quarterly. Page 1073

The time schedule is too tighten and the elections are postponed and are held in 1954 because the results of the national census are not yet ready. The census determines the total population of China as more than 600 million. Everybody above the age of 18, and who is allowed to vote, has the right to register.
Article Five of the electoral law of 1953 specifically excludes the following categories of people from electoral participation: (1) Elements of the landlord class whose status has not yet been changed according to law; (2) Counterrevolutionaries who have been deprived of political rights according to law; (3) Others who have been deprived of political rights according to law (for example all Buddhists unless their organizations were members of the government sponsored Buddhist Association (see Article 5) and their individual political behavior was beyond doubt.); and, (4) Mentally deficient persons.
Document: 11-02-1953 Election Law of the Chinese People's Republic for the All-China People's Congress and comments from Deng Xiaoping
Document: 27-09-1949 The organic law of the CPPCC
Document: 06-04-1953 Directive on election law and census

323 million people receive a voting card. There is no possibility to vote on different political parties or programmes. They have to choose from candidates who are thoroughly screened. The elections are hold throughout the year and in spring 1954 86% of the registered voters on local level have voted by show of hands. The concept of “election” is for many people very confusing.
There is “a widespread lack of engagement with, or misunderstanding of, the elections.” Attendance and participation in “small group discussions” that preceded the voting were problematic, with one report lamenting that “during meetings, the only people who talked were a few activists; the other voters didn’t say a word.14"
Zhang Jishun (2014). Page 1075-1076
Zhang also notices that cadres in Beijing “had poor attitudes” despite working for “top-level organs of the central government.”
In total 5½ million members for the local congresses are chosen. The members of the people’s congresses on a higher level are chosen in staged elections and finally the NPC members would be elected. This procedure was too complicated and in the middle of 1954 it is decided to send a list of 1226 delegates to the provincial people’s congresses for approval. In September 1954 the first NPC convenes.
In Article 12 of the common program the procedure of elections will be looked at in greater detail.


Literature Notes Documents...

1. Zhang Jishun (2014). Creating “Masters of the Country” in Shanghai and Beijing: Discourse and the 1953–54 Local People's Congress Elections. The China Quarterly. Page 1073 Back
5. Zhang Jishun (2014). Page 1075-1076 Back

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