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The successor's dilemma in China's single party political system

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  • Zhang, Yongjing

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhang, Yongjing, 2011. "The successor's dilemma in China's single party political system," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 674-680.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:27:y:2011:i:4:p:674-680
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2011.05.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Wintrobe,Ronald, 2000. "The Political Economy of Dictatorship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521794497.
    2. Bernhard Ebbinghaus, 2009. "Can Path Dependence Explain Institutional Change? Two Approaches Applied to Welfare State Reform," Chapters,in: The Evolution of Path Dependence, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    4. Tridimas, George, 2011. "The political economy of power-sharing," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 328-342, June.
    5. Lopez, Edward J, 2003. "Term Limits: Causes and Consequences," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 114(1-2), pages 1-56, January.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:87:y:1993:i:03:p:567-576_10 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Seghezza, Elena & Morelli, Pierluigi & Pittaluga, Giovanni B., 2017. "Reserve accumulation and exchange rate policy in China: The authoritarian elite's aim of political survival," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 163-174.
    2. George Tridimas, 2016. "On the overthrow or endurance of kings," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 41-65, March.
    3. George Tridimas, 2014. "Why some democracies are headed by a monarch?," ICER Working Papers 07-2014, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    4. Tridimas, George, 2012. "How democracy was achieved," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 651-658.
    5. repec:eee:poleco:v:51:y:2018:i:c:p:44-56 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Autocracy; China; Leadership succession; Term limits;

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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