Chinese Politics and the Succession to Mao

Chinese Politics and the Succession to Mao

Chinese Politics and the Succession to Mao

Chinese Politics and the Succession to Mao

Excerpt

In most modern nation-states, whatever their political complexion, one individual generally has the role of what Seweryn Bialer calls the 'top leader' in the simple sense that he or she possesses a greater measure of power than anyone else. In liberal democracies the top leader can easily be recognised by virtue of holding a major office of state, such as 'President' or 'Prime Minister', which invests the incumbent with a range of formal powers. Sometimes, as in the socialist states, the top leader's position normally derives from command of the ruling Communist Party, and carries the title of 'Chairman', 'First Secretary', or 'General Secretary' (the exact nomenclature differs between parties and individual parties may change their titles from time to time).

Generally speaking, the task of identifying the top leader in any state is relatively easy. The top leader is usually highly visible and his or her activities attract considerable attention, as do the methods by which a top leader has achieved power and, subsequently, been replaced by another. The question of political succession is of abiding interest because of its intrinsic importance and also because of the sheer diversity of the processes by which power is transferred and the consequences for the political system concerned. This book will examine the problem as it has affected the People's Republic of China but, before doing so, it is worth making some brief points of a comparative nature.

Succession in liberal democracies is relatively easy to observe and it has, therefore, been studied in enormous depth. Liberal democracies have evolved methods of changing their top leaders which are highly institutionalised and predictable. Usually the succession process is determined by . . .

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