(Reuters) - China's outgoing leader and his likely successor are pushing the ruling Communist Party to adopt a more democratic process this month for choosing a new leadership, sources said, in an attempt to boost its flagging legitimacy in the eyes of the public.
The extent of the reform would be unprecedented in communist China where elections for the highest tiers of the party, held every five years, have been mainly exercises in rubber-stamping candidates already agreed upon by party power-brokers.
The Communist Party, which has held unbroken power since 1949, is struggling to maintain its popular legitimacy in the face of rising inequality, corruption and environmental degradation, even as the economy continues to bound ahead.
President Hu Jintao and his heir, Xi Jinping, have proposed that the party's 18th Congress, which opens on Thursday, should hold elections for the elite Politburo where for the first time there would be more candidates than available seats, said three sources with ties to the party leadership. ...
One theory of economic development is that as long as the masses are poor, there is little incentive to develop sound economic and governmental institutions. As prosperity begins to emerge, those who have benefited have more to lose through arbitrary and ineffective institutions. The presence of a rising middle class creates a hope among the poor that they too can prosper. Citizens begin to press for better institutions and greater accountability. Better institutions and accountability leads to more prosperity. And on the cycle goes.
Is that happening here? Let's hope so.