The successor's dilemma in China's single party political system
An autocratic ruler seeking a successor who will recognize and maintain his legacy faces a dilemma. The designated successor may become too successful politically and threaten the autocrat's rule, or if not successful in achieving recognition, the designated successor may fail to remain in office after the ruler dies, and the ruler's legacy will not be sustained. The dilemma is also that of the successor in choosing self-promotion that threatens the still-living ruler. I examine the solution to the successor's dilemma in the single-party system China. Uniquely for an autocracy, China has term limits and also age limits on political office. I describe how term limits and dual-generation designation of successors on the basis of “checks-and-balances” were the consequence of a rational choice of Deng Xiaoping, as a paramount leader, to resolve the successor's dilemma so as to extend his own power to sustain his legacies.
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