We argue that the choice of electoral rules in Chinese villages results from the incentives that rural party elites face in their efforts to control electoral results. Using the rationalist approach, we propose four conditions under which they will adopt an institution that allows for electoral uncertainty: a large proportion of revenue from village-owned enterprises (VOEs), a large size of electorate, the presence of strong social groups, and frequent upper level government interventions. We use the 2011 Wukan incident to illustrate our argument. The cross-sectional analysis of survey data of 961 villages provides some evidence for the hypotheses: A larger number of labor force and frequent inspections by the upper-level government are significantly correlated with an increase of the likelihood that a village party leader allows villagers to freely nominate candidates. Theoretical and policy implications will be discussed in the end of this paper.
Asian Affairs: an American Review, Vol.44, No.4, pp.99-124