This piece was written by Shao-Kang Chen in advance of Hong Kong’s September 2016 Legislative Council election. Chen is a Vincent Siew International Exchange Fellow.
The sixth Hong Kong Legislative Council election is coming up on September 4, 2016, and an analysis of the possible outcomes gives insights into the city’s future political development. The results will be analyzed after they come in. For now, the latest round (ending September 1) of a rolling survey of the candidates’ popularity conducted by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) offers as clear a view of the picture as available. The poll focused on the race for 35 seats in the Geographic Constituencies and 5 seats in the Second District of the Functional Constituency, where there is lively competition.
The contesting parties with similar political inclinations, particularly in terms of their views on the relationship with China, are often broken into three camps. The pro-establishment or pro-Beijing camp is the political alignment that supports the policies and views of the Chinese Communist Party as well as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. It mainly consists of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, the Liberal Party, and the New People’s Party.
In opposition, the pan-democracy camp is composed of the allied parties that support liberal values and universal suffrage for the election of the Hong Kong chief executive and the Legislative Council. The pan-democracy camp encompasses the Democratic Party, the Civic Party, the Labor Party, the League of Social Democrats, the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, People Power, Neighborhood and Workers’ Service Center, and the NeoDemocrats.
The parties of candidates whose political perspectives generally lie in the middle of the spectrum between the pro-establishment and pan-democracy camps are termed the centrist camp. This voting bloc encourages rational and practical negotiations with the Beijing government and condemns radical social movements—including the Occupy Central movement in 2013 and the Mong Kok protests in early 2016—that they believe alienate Hong Kong society. The major parties in this bloc are Path of Democracy, Third Side, and Professional Power.
The Localist camp is a unique faction that steers independently of the pro-establishment and pan-democracy camps, yet also differs from the centrist camp. It prioritizes the well-being of Hong Kong citizens and views the policies of the Chinese central government as an encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy. The most radical voices in this bloc call for a return to British rule or even full independence as a sovereign state.
Candidates from these different camps will compete on Sunday, September 4, 2016, for the 70 seats in the Legislative Council. How the election turns out largely will depend on the pitched battle in the Geographic Constituencies.
The Geographic Constituencies are divided into five different campaign zones. On Hong Kong Island, the six leading candidates are: Regina Ip, Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, and Kwok Wai-keung from the pro-establishment wing; Tanya Chan Suk-chong and Ted Hui Chi-fung from the pan-democracy wing; and Ricky Wong Wai-kay from the centrist camp.
The polling in the Kowloon East region is rather stable. Paul Tse Wai-chun, Wilson Or Chong-shing, and Wong Kwok-kin look likely to be the winning candidates for the pro-establishment wing, and Wu Chi-wai and Tam Man-ho from the pan-democracy wing also sit comfortably at the top of the standings.
The six seats in Kowloon West are fiercely contested. Priscilla Leung and Ann Chiang Lai-wan of the pro-establishment side are close in the polls as are Claudia Mo and Helena Wong Pik-wan from the pan-democracy wing. All of them are expected to win seats. The last two seats will likely fall to two out of three Localist candidates: Raymond Wong Yuk-man, Yau Wai-ching, and Lau Siu-lai.
Things get more complicated in the New Territories East region. Elizabeth Quat, Dominic Lee Tsz-king, and Gary Chan Hak-kan are the favorites from the pro-establishment wing. Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Gary Fan Kwok-wai, and Leung Kwok-hung are the forerunners in the pan-democracy wing, but the latest polls show that Lam Cheuk-ting, Fernando Cheung, and Andrew Cheng Kar-foo are not too far behind. Other favored candidates in the New Territories East region are Christine Fong Kwok-shan from the centrist camp, as well as Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Horace Chin Wan-kan from the Localist faction.
In New Territories West, Michael Tien Puk-sun, Alice Mak Mei-kuen, Leung Che-cheung, Ben Chan Han-pan, and Junius Ho are in the lead in the pro-establishment wing. Kwok Ka-ki and Andrew Wan Siu-kin appear to be the likely pro-democracy candidates. These seven candidates are expected to gain seats. The last two seats in this region are seen to be contested between Cheng Chung-tai and Eddie Chu Hoi-dick from the Localist camp.
To sum up the competition in the Geographic Constituencies, the polls show the pro-establishment wing winning at least sixteen seats and the pan-democrats taking eleven seats. Candidates from the centrist and Localist camps look likely to take a total of at least eight seats.
The outcome in the competition of the Second District in the Functional Constituency appears almost foreordained. Starry Lee Wai-king and Wong Kwok-hing from the pro-establishment wing and James To Kun-sun and Leung Yiu-chung from the pan-democrats are long-time favorites. Holden Chow Ho-ding and Roy Kwong are locked in a neck-and-neck race for the fifth seat. The HKU rolling survey did not examine other parts of the Functional Constituencies.
According to the HKU poll, it seems safe to say that the pan-democrats are not likely to gain a majority of the seats in the Legislative Council in this election. The key issue for the pan-democracy wing now is whether they can obtain at least one-third of the total seats in the body. Based on the Legislative Council Rules of Procedure, the passage of major motions—including the disqualification of members from office, bills returned for reconsideration, and Articles 52(2), 73(9), and 159 of the Basic Law as well as Annexes I and II—requires a two-thirds vote of the members present. Judging from the current situation, the pan-democrats need to win at least ten more seats to meet the one-third threshold, which will likely be an uphill battle on a slippery slope.