Beijing Spring, 1989: Confrontation and Conflict: the Basic Documents

By Michel Oksenberg; Lawrence R. Sullivan et al. | Go to book overview
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Establish Democratic Authority

Source: Jingjixue zhoubao (Economic studies weekly) ( Beijing) ( March 5. 1989): 5; FBIS, March 17, pp. 16-18.

We always attach importance to authority, and attach importance to the authority of the leading party, the leading organs, and the leading people. In both the revolutionary period and the construction period, we [needed] such leadership authority. However, what we need to establish is democratic authority rather than autocratic authority.The authority we [now] need is one with prestige and popular trust. However, autocratic authority is built on the basis of despotic and dictatorial power. It is easier for one person to hold power than to establish prestige and popular trust. At present, there are many problems in reality. In my view, a serious problem is the lack of prestige and popular trust. The prestige of the party and the government in the minds of the people is declining rather than rising.In the period of reform, it is necessary to establish authority with high prestige in order to exercise effective leadership over reform and to carry on economic structural reform focused on the development of the commodity economy and political structural reform focused on democratic construction.With respect to political structural reform, real authority can only be built on the basis of democracy. There are fundamental differences between democratic authority and autocratic authority. The characteristics of democratic authority can be summarized into the following points:
First, the establishment of democratic authority requires a democratic and scientific decision-making system. When formulating the guiding principles for making policy decisions, the leading organs and leading people should first carefully and thoroughly investigate and study the actual conditions, listen to various opinions with an open mind, and especially pay attention to skeptical and opposing opinions. Only in this way can the correctness of the policy decisions be ensured to the largest possible extent.
Second, the establishment of democratic authority requires that leading people be elected strictly according to the democratic procedures prescribed by the relevant law. The nomination of candidates and the election should be carried out on the basis of full discussions, comments, and election campaigns, and the number of candidates should be greater than the posts to be filled. Democratic elections may not necessarily choose leaders of the best quality, but they do ensure that bad leaders will not be able to remain in power. Democratic elections


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