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Revised electoral law enhances democracy
By Meng Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-27 22:28

China's top legislators Wednesday passed the amendment to the nation's Election Law, injecting more democracy into grass-roots elections.

The Election Law, adopted in 1979, covers elections to all levels of legislative bodies -- from the National People's Congress (NPC) to grass-roots bodies -- and has been amended in 1982, 1986 and 1995.

The new amendment introduces preliminary elections to the system and stepped up the crackdown on bribery in elections.

The Standing Committee of the 10th NPC Wednesday also passed the amendment to the law on the organization of local congresses before closing its six-day session.

The amendment says all local people's congresses should have a tenure of five years. People's congresses at township level previously enjoyed a term of three years, inconsistent with the five-year term of higher congresses.

And the personnel changes agreed at Wednesday's meeting are expected to invigorate the committee as it works to enhance its lawmaking and supervisory capacity.

Legislators elected Li Lianning, He Yehui and Sun Wei as new deputy secretaries-general of the NPC Standing Committee.

Li holds a master's degree in civil law and He served in the country's top prosecutors' office before being elected to the committee last year.

Xin Chunying, a former deputy director of the Legal Studies Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was elected as vice-director of the Commission of Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee.

NPC insiders said more professionals are needed in the country's top legislature because lawmaking is becoming increasingly complicated and technical and legislators are required to understand not only domestic market development needs, but also the latest legal theories necessary to support domestic legislation.

The Election Law says NPC deputies and deputies to the people's congresses of provinces, municipalities directly under the central government and cities divided into districts are elected by the people's congresses at the next lower level.

Deputies to the people's congresses of counties, cities not divided into districts, municipal districts, townships, minority townships and towns are elected directly by their constituencies.

The law says candidates could be nominated by political parties or organizations or they could be nominated by groups of 10 or more voters. The list of candidates in direct election is finalized through discussion by the electoral committee.

The amendment says preliminary elections will be adopted when the electoral committee cannot reach a consensus.

The amendment also specifies that any practice of bribery and the hampering of the free exercise of electoral rights will be punished, up to and including the level of criminal liability.

The lawmakers also ratified the agreement between China and Tajikistan on their co-operation against terrorism, separatism and extremism.

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