“Many people see rampant bribery as evidence that village elections don’t work or matter. And it definitely isn’t a good thing from the perspective of democracy. But actually elections must be working fairly well for candidates to see bribery—an expensive proposition—as necessary to win. If the elections didn’t matter or if it were easier to stuff the ballot or undermine the election in another way, no one would spend so much money on bribery to win them. The elections ensure that the developers and local officials have to share some of the wealth that they might otherwise just pocket themselves.”
-MAYLING BIRNEY, LECTURER AT THE LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS.
Speaking to Evan Osnos of the New Yorker (full article here), Birney explains how bribery in village elections could be seen as a sign of the improving status of democracy in China.