Village elections, local governance and social unrest in China
In a bid to ease social unrest and gradually reform its politics. China implemented elections in its 680,000 villages. Shortly thereafter, an explosion of protests was recorded throughout China and they have increased in number every year since. The two phenomena may be linked. This study examines the extent of township interference in elections and its effect on local governance. It also offers evidence that the failure of elections, in combination with other problems, are causing widespread unrest in the countryside. Twenty-four villages throughout China were studied to develop detailed case studies of elections, governance and unrest. Eleven of these villages were intensively surveyed to create a quantitative study of village elections, township interference and local mismanagement. In several cases, the process from initial villager grievance to attempted resolution to eventual protest is traced. A second database was developed using ninety-two protests recorded in 2005. This data suggests the applicability of certain locally-observed processes to the wider arena.