1912 Chinese National Assembly election

The 1912 Chinese National Assembly elections, held in December 1912 to January 1913, were the first nation-wide elections for the newly founded National Assembly of the Republic of China, which was a bicameral parliament with a Senate and a House of Representatives. This assembly was called by the Chinese the Old Congress (laoguohui) to differentiate it from the future assemblies.

1912 Chinese National Assembly elections

← 1909 December 1912 − January 1913 1918 →

All 870 seats in the National Assembly
(274 seats in the Senate and 596 seats in the House of Representatives)
  First party Second party
Leader Song Jiaoren Li Yuanhong
Party Kuomintang Republican
Senate 132 46
House 269 120

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Zhang Binglin Tang Hualong
Party Unity Democratic
Senate 6 8
House 18 16

Premier before election

Zhao Bingjun

Elected Premier

Zhao Bingjun

Overview edit

The election was indirect, as voters chose some 30,000 electors who chose about 2,000 members of the provincial assemblies and 596 members of the House of Representatives. The election was conducted relatively fairly, although some claim that this system had caused instances of bribery, duress, and violence.

The 274-member Senate were elected by the provincial assemblies who themselves had been elected in 1909 during the Qing dynasty.

Adult males over the age of 21 who were educated or owned property and paid taxes, and who could prove a two-year residency in a particular county, could vote.[1] An estimated 40 million or 4-6% of China's population were registered for the election.[2] This was an increase from the size of the electorate in the 1909 Chinese provincial elections, when less than 1% of the population was enfranchised.

The president had to pick the 64 members representing Tibet, Outer Mongolia, and Overseas Chinese due to the fact that the government in Beijing did not exercise enough control over these populations to organize elections. Despite the compromises, this election had the participation of over 300 civic groups and was the first and most competitive nationwide election in Chinese history.

The Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) led by Song Jiaoren won a plurality in both houses of the assembly, and Song was expected to become the Premier of China.[2] After losing the election, the Republican, Unity, and Democratic (formerly Constitutionalist) parties merged into the Progressive Party with Liang Qichao as leader. The Progressive Party became the main rival to the Nationalists.

Song was assassinated on 20 March 1913 in Shanghai. When the assembly convened for the first time on April 8 amid heated debate over the assassination, the Nationalists were divided over solutions on how to deal with Yuan Shikai, the provisional president, who was suspected of ordering the assassination. On 12 July, Sun Yat-sen led the Nationalists to launch an armed rebellion against Yuan, historically known as the Second Revolution. However, the Second Revolution was defeated within two months by Yuan's forces.

The National Assembly members were compromised by threats and bribes from Yuan. He confined the National Assembly (Congress) and forced them to elect him as the formal president in the October presidential election. Soon, Yuan outlawed the Nationalists and expelled them from the assembly. Without a quorum, the National Assembly could not convene. Consequently, Yuan disbanded this assembly (congress) on 10 January 1914. In other words, this body existed for only nine months, yet it left an enduring legacy to China as the first democratic experiment.

Voter and seat distributions edit

The inaugural meeting of the National Assembly in April 1913.
Electoral district Population Voters % House Seats Senate Seats
Zhili 25,932,133 9,195,757 35.46 46 10
Fengtian 12,133,303 896,408 7.39 16 10
Jilin 5,580,030 108,835 1.95 10 10
Heilongjiang 2,028,776 288,234 14.21 10 10
Shandong 30,987,853 1,368,184 4.42 33 10
Henan 35,900,038 1,688,632 4.70 32 10
Shanxi 12,269,386 2,588,068 21.10 28 10
Jiangsu 32,282,781 1,939,386 6.01 40 10
Anhui 16,229,052 1,450,901 8.94 27 10
Jiangxi 23,987,317 4,986,883 20.79 35 10
Fujian 15,849,296 1,283,348 8.10 24 10
Zhejiang 21,440,151 1,184,629 5.53 38 10
Hubei 25,590,308 5,670,370 22.16 26 10
Hunan 27,390,230 1,277,414 4.66 27 10
Shaanxi 10,271,096 1,395,622 2.98 21 10
Gansu 4,989,907 148,526 2.98 14 10
Xinjiang 2,000,000 9,506 0.48 10 10
Sichuan 48,129,596 1,729,368 3.59 35 10
Guangdong 28,010,560 1,966,516 7.02 30 10
Guangxi 8,746,747 2,731,717 31.23 19 10
Yunnan 9,466,965 233,398 2.47 22 10
Guizhou 9,665,227 792,290 8.20 13 10
Inner Mongolia 27 27
Tibet Autonomous Region 10 10
Qinghai 3 3
Oversea Chinese 0 6
Central Society 0 8
Total 406,880,486 42,933,992 10.50 596 274

Results edit

Republican Party46120
Unity Party618
Democratic Party816
Multi-party candidates38147

Presidential elections in National Assembly edit

An important function of the National Assembly under the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China was to elect the President and Vice President of China. The following elections were held by the 1st National Assembly of Beiyang government.

Presidential elections by the National Assembly elected in 1912—13
Order Presidential Election President Vice President Note
1st 1913 Chinese presidential election Yuan Shikai Li Yuanhong First formal presidential election in Chinese history
1916 Chinese vice-presidential election Feng Guozhang To replace the vacancy of Li Yuanhong as he sworn in as the President after Yuan Shikai's death.
3rd 1923 Chinese presidential election Cao Kun Resumed session after First Zhili–Fengtian War
  • The 2nd Presidential election was held by the 2nd National Assembly elected in 1918

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Cambridge History of China, Vol 12, Part 1: 222-223
  2. ^ a b Young, Ernest P. ""Politics in the Aftermath of Revolution: The Era of Yuan Shih-K'ai, 1912-16"". Cambridge History of China, Vol 12, Part 1. p. 222.

Bibliography edit