China faced a grim scenario in Hong Kong as pro-democracy groups have made record gains in polls for Election Committee, which will elect the former British territory’s next Chief Executive who unlike his predecessor may have to toe a balanced line to address growing anti-Beijing resentment.
Amid a high turnout the pro-democracy group have won 362 of the 733 seats, although pro-Beijing groups will still have a big majority, official poll results said.
Critics say the results show the undemocratic nature of the system as people in different sectors voted for representatives in the Committee instead of a direct election system. The Committee elects the Chief Executive who would be the chief administrator.
Candidates running for chief executive have to be nominated by the 1,200-strong Election Committee – and need a majority of votes from the committee to win. The committee’s members are made up of delegates from special interest groups.
Analysts say despite the gains by pro-democracy groups, the pro-Beijing majority ensures the battle will be between figures favourable to the mainland government, BBC reported.
The main contenders for the post are Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary John Tsang who is regarded as a more moderate alternative to the outgoing leader Leung Chun-ying, who was accused of focussing more on protecting
China s interests fuelling discontent specially among the youth.
Known as “Uncle Pringles” for a moustache similar to one worn by a character on a potato crisp brand’s packaging, Tsang is a US-educated fencing and martial arts enthusiast who has been the finance minister since July 2007.
The big wins by pan-democrats was seen as reflection of dissatisfaction with the current government, and the slow pace of democratic reforms. Lit Ming-wai, of Health Professionals For Democracy 30, said it was a big surprise for the pro-democracy group to win all 30 seats in the subsector. Only nine pan-democrats or allies won in the 2011 polls.
“It reflects that the Election Committee poll is more than just an election, but is a fight to safeguard our core values,” she told Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
“If chief executive aspirants want to take our votes, they must incorporate our calls for democratic political reform in their manifesto,” she said.
Camille Lam Tsz-kwan, of the group CoVision16, said victory by pan-democrats in the architectural subsector reflected its strong support for democracy. “The sector was not hotly contested before and the pro-establishment camp used to take the seats. But now we know there are actually a lot of pro-democracy voters in the field.” In 2014, tens of thousands of people demonstrated for weeks to demand a one-man, one-vote election for chief executive, but they failed to win any concessions from Beijing.