•Institutional bindingness is whether quasi-democratic institutions restrict ruling elites’ discretion in governance.•The consequences and sources of the variation in institutional bindingness are studied for Chinese village elections.•The bindingness of village elections is operationalized in terms of the power structure within village leadership.•The balance of power between Villagers’ Committees and Party branches affects land expropriation outcomes.•Village power structure is shaped by political bargaining between the local government and ordinary villagers.
World Development – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 2018
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