All Systems Go!

One thing you can say for certain about life in Hong Kong: it’s always interesting, there’s always something going on.

Last time I reported that I had just voted in the Legislative Council elections. So did more than 2.2 million other people, a record high percentage of a record high number of registered voters. The results came as a surprise to many.

The government had set out with a number of objectives: among trade/professional based Functional Constituencies where it held a 24 – 6 majority, to grab two of the Opposition seats (Legal and Accounting), and retain all 24 of the seats it already held; among the five "super seats" to push up the pro-government share of the vote from 45 close to 50 and through superior organization turn the 2 – 3 minority into a 3 – 2 majority. In that way among all FCs it would improve its 26 -- 9 majority into a 29 – 6 one. Similarly in the 35 Geographical Constituencies, improving the pro-government share of the vote would flip the 17 – 18 minority into an 18 – 17 majority.

Having a majority in both FCs and GCs would allow amendments to be made to Legco procedures (to minimize opportunities for filibustering) and by reducing the opposition numbers below one third of the total seats the way would be clear for political reform.

In the event, none of the government’s objectives were achieved. The members holding the two target FC seats were both returned with increased majorities; the share of the vote declined from 45 to 42 so the Opposition easily retained its 3 – 2 majority among the super seats, and the overall FC situation deteriorated to 24 – 11, still a majority but a reduced one. Among GCs the situation was worse. The Opposition majority improved to 19 – 16. Overall among Legco seats the government’s majority dropped from 43 – 27 to 40 – 30.

There were other surprises too – most notably the sudden emergence of a solid "localist" faction with some 20% of the overall vote. The repercussions of this development will provide fodder for many future columns.