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The China ModelPolitical Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy$
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Daniel A. Bell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691173047

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691173047.001.0001

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What’s Wrong with Political Meritocracy

What’s Wrong with Political Meritocracy

(p.110) Chapter 3 What’s Wrong with Political Meritocracy
The China Model

Daniel A. Bell

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines three key problems associated with any attempt to implement political meritocracy: the problem of corruption, the problem of ossification, and the problem of legitimacy. Given that electoral democracy at the top is not politically realistic in China, the chapter asks whether it is possible to address these problems without democratic elections. The problem of corruption can be addressed by mechanisms such as independent supervisory institutions and improved moral education, whereas the problem of ossification of hierarchies can be addressed by means of a humble political discourse, or opening the ruling party to diverse social groups. On the other hand, the problem of legitimacy can be addressed only by providing more opportunities for political participation. The chapter considers whether political meritocracy can be reconciled with democracy in morally desirable ways without multiparty competition and free and fair elections for top leaders.

Keywords:   political meritocracy, corruption, ossification, legitimacy, electoral democracy, China, elections, political participation, democracy

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