In order to take full control of Hong Kong‘s political system and prevent Hong Kong people from freely electing legislators and the Chief Executive, Beijing has gone to great lengths to amend the Basic Law to rewrite the method for the selection of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive and Legislative Council elections, which will in future significantly reduce the proportion of direct elections in the districts and create additional sectors for the Election Committee, so that Beijing can absolutely control the Legislative Council. Some scholars believe that the NPC’s decision to re-write the election game for the Legislative Council will focus on the EC in future elections.
The newly amended Annex II of the Basic Law stipulates that the number of seats in the Legislative Council will increase from 70 to 90 after tomorrow, with 40 seats for the Election Committee, 30 seats for functional constituencies, and 20 seats for direct elections in the districts.
The most attention is paid to the “Election Committee”, which accounts for the largest proportion of seats. Among them, Annex II lists 27 new seats of representatives of mainland Hong Kong people’s groups, and abolished all the representatives of the District Council Election Committee, replaced by the District Zoning Committee, the Fight Crime Committee, the Fire Prevention Committee, a total of 156 seats (see separate draft), these organizations are all appointed by the government.
In terms of the composition of the functional constituencies, Annex II lists a total of 28 constituencies, most of which are dealt with by “corporate voting”, while only 9 functional constituencies, such as the rural councils, legal, Education, accounting and other constituencies, will be elected by individual votes. In addition, the NPC decided to overturn the 2012 political reform proposal, and the original District Council (First) and District Council (Second) seats, commonly known as the “Super District Council”, were abolished.
The democratic elements are far less than in the colonial era
The number of directly elected districts will be changed to 10 districts, with two seats in each district, and the two candidates with the highest number of votes will be elected. In the newly revised electoral system, the proportion of direct election is less than 23%, a record low since 1991 when there was direct election in Hong Kong. 1991, the composition of direct election for the Legislative Council was 30%, after which it continued to increase to a new high of 57% in 2012, while the proportion of direct election only accounts for 22% in the future.
To become a member of the Legislative Council, one must first obtain enough nominations. Candidates for the EAC, functional constituencies or district direct elections are required to obtain nominations from at least two members in each of the five constituencies of the EAC. At the same Time, candidates for district-based direct elections must also obtain nominations from at least 100 voters in their constituencies.
Police National Security Division to check the eligibility of candidates for election
However, even if there are enough nominations, it does not mean that the “election” is smooth sailing, still have to face three hurdles. The National Security Division of the police has the authority to examine whether candidates meet the statutory requirements of upholding the Basic Law and pledging allegiance to the SAR. The CAC’s opinion confirms the candidate’s eligibility. Candidates are not allowed to apply for judicial review of the decision.
In addition, Annex II stressed that the SAR “should take measures to regulate the manipulation and disruption of the election in accordance with the law,” meaning that any democratic coordination of primary elections or polls will become the last word.
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor: the National Security Council decision is not subject to judicial review
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government aims to submit to the Legislative Council in the middle of next month to amend the draft amendments to the electoral legislation, expecting the Legislative Council to complete its deliberations and pass by the end of May, and in June to redo the voter registration. She said Hong Kong will first hold the Election Committee subsector elections in September, the Legislative Council general election in December, and the Chief Executive election in March 2022.
Mrs. Lam said that the committee will be composed of several key officials of the SAR. Asked about the Committee’s decision is not subject to judicial review, she explained that, according to the “Hong Kong National Security Law”, the decision of the National Security Committee is not subject to judicial review, therefore, the Committee can not be challenged by lawsuits, but candidates can still file election petitions if they are disqualified.
Carrie Lam: “People are a little worried about whether he (a member of the CAC) will have a political party background, bias, or in the current environment worried that because of doing this (as a member of the CAC) will be undercover, foreign sanctions. I have recently heard many people worry about who is brave enough to serve as a member of the CAC, so it is appropriate for a principal official to serve.”
Beijing-controlled EC has key role in elections
Associate Professor Ma Yue of CUHK’s Department of Political and Administrative Sciences believes that the newly revised composition of the Parliament can be seen, the NPC aims to screen candidates’ eligibility to run for election, greatly reducing the proportion of direct elections in the Parliament, which is fundamentally changing the nature and function of the Legislative Council.
Ma Yue: “Direct election is no longer important, different political parties, if it is based on direct election, how many seats can get? The power is very limited. This also affects the pro-Beijing political parties to take the direct election route, it is obvious that the SAR government will respond to public opinion in the past, for fear of affecting the election of pro-Beijing parties. Next, the whole balance of power in the parliament will change, the mechanism of direct election is no longer important, and the influence of public opinion in the whole policy-making process will be greatly reduced.”
The influence of direct election in the parliament is no longer there, and Ma Yue believes that the Legislative Council will become a system dominated by the “Election Committee”, which will hold the right to nominate candidates for the Legislative Council election, questioning the election is more or less an “appointment” in disguise
Ma Yue: “more or less, the central government can control the 40 people to a large extent, the original parliamentary section, such as the influence of the Hong Kong business community will be greatly reduced, more than 10 seats in the traditional functional constituencies in the past, is the heavyweight of the Hong Kong business community, but from 70 seats to 90 seats, their proportion will also decline accordingly, I would say it is a reshuffle. So after that will see is the mechanism of the Election Committee, because there is the right to nominate, can elect the Chief Executive, etc., the influence is very large.”
Asked about the district direct election will be divided into 10 constituencies, Ma Yue believes that even if the composition of the district direct election how to be modified, can not see how the future section of the Parliament will be changed, because originally there are multiple screening.