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Research On Public Participation And Township Governance Mechanism

Posted on:2012-09-17Degree:DoctorType:Dissertation
Country:ChinaCandidate:K P ZhaoFull Text:PDF
GTID:1116330335467589Subject:Scientific Socialism and the international communist movement
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China is a typically agricultural country. Geographically, rural areas take up the largest proportion of land. In terms of population, farmers account for the overwhelming majority of total population. Early at the beginning of reform and opening up, Deng Xiaoping clearly expressed the significance of work in rural areas. Farmers account for 80% of total population. The social stability and economic development of China primarily depend on the stability and economic development of rural areas. In recent years, since a variety of social development resources flow into rural areas under the influence of a lot of policies supporting agriculture and benefiting famers implemented by the Central Government, the economy, lifestyle and even social presence in rural areas have changed a lot. Rural society is developing deeply from economic level to social level. Stratification becomes clearer and clearer in rural areas. The pattern of interests diversification comes into being. Farmers'demands for government functions become unprecedentedly complicated and diversified. However, township government that is marginalized in the administrative system in a long run is used to reporting to higher authorities and giving instructions when it comes to deal with village affairs. Such government is lack of communication and interaction with the society and the public, giving rise to the imbalance of government functions and the interests demand of farmers. Especially, after the reform of rural taxes and administrative charges, township government that has been deprived of the authority to extract money is unable to make ends meet and robs Peter to pay Paul. It is a common phenomenon in the central and western regions. Due to the limit of fiscal capacity, township government has difficulty in fulfilling its responsibilities of offering public service for rural society after making rigid expenditures such as wages and office expenses. As a result, the conflict between the functions of township government and the demand of farmers is increasingly intensified. Meanwhile, the unfair allocation of finite public resources possessed by township government further exacerbates the gap between the rich and the poor and intensifies the conflict of different classes. Drastic confrontation is even nothing new. Social discontent would give rise to social explosion and even ruin the remarkable brilliance achieved by China if it isn't relieved effectively.The practices of reform of township organization in the past have proved repeatedly that the reform of township organization not only needs administrative power, but also calls for social force, and as is often the case, grass-roots driving force is the most powerful. Through reviewing the reform of township organization in the past from the prospective of driving force, it can be easily found that administrative organ acted as the propellent, operator and even the object of the reform. The force out of administrative system is hard to get involved in such process. Due to the limit of interests, the reform of township organizations is far from satisfactory. Therefore, under the background of rural social differentiation and increasing interests diversification, the succeed of transformation of township government functions requires breaking the dependence on the path of reform and relying on social force to establish institutional path, to ensure the availability of public participation in township governance and to regard public interests and public opinion as enormous pressure to push forward the transformation of government functions. Only in this way can we urge the change of township government from giving instructions to serving people and change the simple and close-minded pattern of township governance into a diversified and open one. To achieve such goal, the following principles shall be followed:firstly, government functions are finite. Township government needs to change the administrative mode of "taking on the all things" and withdraw from social self-government to improve the efficiency of resource allocation through market-based instruments. In this way, township government can devote to what can't be easily regulated through the society and market and improve fair allocation of resources. Secondly, government functions are public. Public character, as the basic attribute of government function, requires the government to provide basic public service that facilitates social progress and public development in a fair manner. In the course of existing township governance, township government'failure in realizing public finance has raised many problems, such as insufficient social security, backward rural education and deteriorated rural living environment. Only by enhancing township fiscal capacity and publicity can we solve these problems, push forward the rapid development of the economy and society in rural areas and achieve the coordinated development of the urban and the rural. Thirdly, government functions are inclusive. Enhancing the inclusiveness of government functions makes government functions cater to the needs of social interests diversification and enable make government mechanism to bridge different interests. At the present stage, the inclusiveness of township government functions can be enhanced by actively encouraging the public to express their views and put forward suggestions on the major decisions made by the government through the way outlined in the system. In this way, decision makers will be urged to prudently consider the demand for social differentiation and the interests of all levels of society, minimizing the instability factors in rural areas and facilitating the sustained development of rural society.Theoretically, governance theory maintained that participatory governance is the direction of government function transformation. Although market and government are the basic allocation modes of social resource, governance mechanism is desperately needed to remedy market failure and government failure. The joint efforts of non-governmental organization, the government and the market can well cover the shortage arising from market failure and government failure and cater to the different demands of social members to the greatest extent. Social contract theory and popular sovereignty theory provide guarantee for establishing the pattern of participatory township governance in terms of politics and rule of law. The mass line of work, popular democracy theory and political consultation theory developed in the process of socialist democracy development are the theoretical basepoint for establishing a participatory township governance mechanism according with the need of national conditions.As far as social development is concerned, great changes have taken placed in the rural society in the past thirty years of reform and opening up:in terms of economy, it transformed from planned economy to market economy; in terms of social structure, it transformed from a closed-minded social structure to an open one; in terms of thoughts and ideas, it transformed from rule of man to rule of law: in terms of government behavior, it transformed from giving instructions to providing service; in terms of political atmosphere, it transformed from a single one to a diversified one. These profound changes in the rural society enable the emergence and development of participatory township governance. Since the founding of new China in 1949, state power has been gradually delegated to local government, breaking the national and social governance pattern of "the emperor's power is never delegated down to a county" prevailed in the traditional society. As administrative power goes to the countryside, the state promptly sets up village administraive organ, forming the integrated township governance mode of people's congress and the government. After 1958, with the rising tide of agricultural cooperation, people communes are set up everywhere. After the reform and opening up in 1978, township government was restored completely. With the deepening of economic reform and social reform, people are increasingly aware of the importance of the change in the governance mode of government to the transformation of rural economy and society. Both the government and social force devoted to pushing forward township government reform and practiced participatory governance including election of village/township head, participatory decision making and democratic forum. The will of the public to participate in township governance grows increasingly. The way for the public to participate in township governance is diversified. The effectiveness of public participatory governance is enhanced steadily. Objectively, farmers'participation rights are unprecedentedly exercised and practiced. However, we found that such scattered reform which, we might even say, was spontaneously promoted by local government, failed to develop a scientific political theory and even conflicted with existing laws and gave rise to many problems in the development process of participatory governance, such as weak civic awareness. Consequently, most of public participative behaviors focus on private interests rather than public good. The financial plight of township government materially undermined the authenticity of public participation. Participatory democracy is exposed to the risk of disorder. The institutional guarantee for public participation in township governance is far from enough.Well, then, how to break through dilemma of public participation in the process of township governance reform.The author believed that, for improving public participation mechanism in township governance at the macro level, a vibrant civil society is needed to work as the social foundation of steady development of participatory governance and break breaking the dependence on the path of township organization reform——"expansion-simplification-re-expansion". There are some cognitions on the building of township civic society:citizenship is the right basis for the building of civic society; developed market economy is the material condition of the formation of civic society; moderate delegation of power by the government provide necessary political space for the development of civic society and; rational civism is the intrinsic force formed in the civic society under the pattern of participatory governance.All previous township organization reforms faced the challenge of overstaffed township organizations and overburdened farmers. These reforms were aimed at eliminated the contradiction between powerful administrative system and vulnerable agricultural revenue. Downsizing township organizations and cutting financial expenditure are the externalization performance of township organization reform. However, although the township organization reform driven by financial pressure can relieve the overburdened farmers, it would inevitably undermine the public service ability of township government. Participatory governance requires the government to have certain fiscal capacity corresponding to its functions. Otherwise, once the government fails to respond to the public's demand for participation, it would impair the authenticity and effectiveness of public participation in township governance. To tackle the financial plight hampering the development of participatory governance, we shall adhere to equal civil rights, realize the equalization of basic public service, standardize the distribution of administrative power and financial power between central government and local government on the basis of rule of law, center on democratic financial system to structure township financial decision-making mechanism, build a platform for supplying township public products involving the participation of multi-subject to thoroughly to turn around the predicament that township finance is neither better nor worse.In the process of pushing forwarding the development of participatory township governance, the impacts of public participation beyond the system on rural political and social order shall be observed. It shall safeguard the stability of rural society and ensure the decision-making efficiency of the government on the principle of ordered democracy; it shall enforce citizens' constitutional rights and optimize participation process support on the principle of participation according to law; it shall ensure that public participation is limited to public domain, refuse the tyranny of the majority, explore the reasonable limit of public participation and put forward an evolutionary development path for participatory democracy which attaches equal importance to extension and regulation.As far as the concrete path for public participatory township governance mechanism is concerned, firstly, the public participation at the level of party authorization needs to be improved. It shall establish grass-roots party members as the main force for inner-party democracy construction, respect and guarantee the exercise of rights of party members, regard institutional improvement, especially the procedural institutional construction, as the core task of the development of inner-party democracy, ensure that party members have rules to follow when they exercise their rights. Meanwhile, it shall actively fulfill the functions of the congress of party representatives and seek an interactive mode of inner-party democracy and people's democracy. At the present stage, it can fully fulfill the election function of the congress of party representatives to realize the direct involvement of grass-roots party members in the election of township party-affair leadership through the congress of party representatives in the manner of competitive election and public election. In this way, party members can exert indirect supervision and restraint on township leadership by exercising voting right.Secondly, the public participation at the level of administrative authorization needs to be improved. The inclusiveness and public property of township government needs to be highlighted so as to ensure the equality of the government and farmers during jointly managing affairs. Farmers shall be considered as the necessary decision-making subject and interests subject during exercising government functions. Meanwhile, the direct intervention in township government by the governments of higher levels shall be regulated. Township government shall be entitled to managing local affair on their own on the condition of the leadership of the Party and national unity. To improve the public participatory township governance mechanism, we need to establish information disclosure system of township government affairs to safeguard farmers' right to know; establish democratic decision-making system of major township issues to safeguard farmers' right to participate; establish response system for the demands of the public to ensure the authenticity of farmer participation.Thirdly, the public participation at the level of citizen authorization needs to be improved. From the prospective of national political structure, the township people's congress is the most direct participation system. The township people's congress provides farmers with a platform to participate in and deliberate state affairs during township governance. Such system arrangement can not only improve the efficiency of the farmers'participation in township governance, but also can guarantee an orderly and stable development of participatory democracy. The public participation at the level of citizen authorization needs to be improved from three aspects:firstly, to enhance the incorporation of the township people's congress election, optimize the township people's congress nomination system, and orderly increase the competitiveness of township people's congress election; secondly, to enhance the incorporation of deputies to the township people's congress, gradually exploring the professionalization of deputies to the township people's congress, give a full play to the role of deputies to the township people's congress to induct and integrate the will of the people; thirdly, to strengthen the incorporation of supervision of the township people's congress, change the disadvantaged position of the township people's congress dependent of township government, constantly optimize the relationship between the township people's congress and villager self-government organizations and seek after conversion of the will of farmers for self-government to the will of organs of state power in the path of rule of law so as to safeguard the villagers'right of self-government and restrict the boundless expansion of administrative power.Fourthly, the public participation at the level of social authorization needs to be improved. Firstly, the modernization of farmers shall be achieved, including the modernization of farmers'mentality, the modernization of rural social structure and the modernization of political behavior of farmers; secondly, farmers'organization shall be optimized. We can observe the path——cultivating and expanding farmers'economic organization-improving and optimizing farmers'social organization-exploring and structuring the path for farmers'political organization; finally, villagers' self-government system needs to be improved. The author believed that in the development process of participatory democracy, moderate delegation of power by the government, financial support, policy guidance are the key to the healthy development of the villagers'self-government organizations. The reasonable power distribution between the government and the villagers'self-government organizations is the key to the improvement of government leadership. We can safeguard the independence of villagers'self-government organizations and standardize the means, coverage, procedure and relief of government leadership over village politics to seek the integration of accommodation and interaction of the both through rules and regulations.Fifthly, the public participation at the level of judicial relief needs to be improved. Judicial relief, regarded as the final barrier for civil right protection, is an authoritative and final relief measure. However, due to the legislative shortage of villagers'self-government relief, judicial guarantee and relief aren't available to the villager's right of self-government in the township governance system. Considering that villager commune is the fundamental element in the public participatory township governance system, judicial power shall be established to guarantee the participation right of the public during improving legislation. Such guarantee shall include the following aspects:in the form of legislation, it shall define the relationship between administrative power and the villagers'right of self-government; establish the legitimacy review system for the rules of villagers'self-government and village regulations and social contract on the account of judicial organ; extend the coverage of accepting cases, formulate relief system for administrative proceedings on the villager's right of self-government against specific infringement acts; extend the scope of accepting election cases in the Civil Suit Law and guarantee the rights of the villagers to elect and to be elected. However, judicial relief is not everything. The improvement of self-government right of villagers also depends on the overall social progress and the transformation of government functions. We can provide broad space for the development of villagers'self-government and develop the vitality of the villagers' self-government right as the most fundamental element in the township governance pattern only after the realization of functional transformation of the government from giving instructions to providing service.
Keywords/Search Tags:township governance, public participation, government functions
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