This paper examines the rise of direct elections in the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) and its implications for ACFTU reform, improvements in worker conditions, and broader democratization trends in China. ACFTU electoral experiments have expanded from early attempts at direct elections for enterprise-level trade union leaders in Guangdong province in 1986 to similar efforts in Zhejing province, Shanghai, Shandong province, and elsewhere. These elections have arisen out of a context of increased political openness in China as well as growing pressures on the ACFTU to change its organizational structure, modes of operation, and interest orientation. This paper traces the history of direct elections in the ACFTU, including the debates and implications surrounding them. The research for this paper was based on documentary analysis and interview based fieldwork in China during 2003 and 2004.
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Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies, 2 pp.