2021 Hong Kong legislative election


The 2021 Hong Kong Legislative Council election is scheduled on 19 December 2021 for the 7th Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo).[1] Under the new framework imposed by the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), the electoral system was drastically changed. The total number of the Legislative Council seats would be increased from 70 to 90 seats, 20 of which are from the directly elected geographical constituencies (GCs), which were reduced from 35; 30 seats remain from the trade-based indirectly elected functional constituencies (FCs); while an extra number of 40 seats will be elected by the Election Committee.

2021 Hong Kong legislative election

 2016 19 December 2021 Next 

All 90 seats to the Legislative Council
46 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
 
Leader Starry Lee Lo Wai-kwok Ng Chau-pei
Party DAB BPA FTU
Alliance Pro-Beijing Pro-Beijing Pro-Beijing
Leader's seat District Council (Second) Engineering No seat
Last election 12 seats, 16.68% 7 seats, 2.29% 5 seats, 7.83%
Current seats 13 8 4

 
Leader Felix Chung Regina Ip Cheng Chung-tai
Party Liberal NPP Civic Passion
Alliance Pro-Beijing Pro-Beijing N/A
Leader's seat Textiles & Garment Hong Kong Island New Territories West
Last election 4 seats, 0.99% 3 seats, 7.73% 1 seat, 5.63%
Current seats 4 2 1

Incumbent President

Andrew Leung
BPA


Originally scheduled on 6 September 2020, Chief Executive Carrie Lam postpone the election on the excuse of the COVID-19 pandemic five weeks before the polls.[2] The delay was seen as a blow to the pro-democrats who hoped to achieve "35+" majority in the legislature for the first time by riding on the 2019 District Council landslide with the wave of massive anti-government protests.[3] After the postponement, the NPCSC unseated four pro-democracy legislators which triggered the mass resignation of the opposition camp, while the police raided pro-democracy media outlet and arrested 55 opposition leaders who participated in the primaries under the newly imposed national security law. In March 2021, the NPCSC amended the Basic Law of Hong Kong which extensively rewrote the electoral rules.[4][5][6]

Background


Election postponement

Originally scheduled on 6 September 2020, the recent resurgence of the COVID-19 cases in July sparked the speculation of the possible delay of the election. Tam Yiu-chung, the sole representative from Hong Kong on National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), suggested that the government should not rule out postponing the upcoming election, denying any criticism that the pro-Beijing camp was afraid of losing the election.[7][8]

On 31 July the last day of the nomination period, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the invocation of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance which gave her to the emergency powers to postpone the election.[2][9] On 11 August the NPCSC unanimously passed a decision to extend the incumbent 6th Legislative Council to extend its term for no less than one year.[10][11]

The delay was seen as a blow to the pro-democrats who aimed to achieve "35+" majority by riding to 2019 District Council landslide on a wave of massive anti-government protests and concerns about the sweeping new national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong. It was also seen as the latest in a quick series of aggressive moves by the Beijing authorities to thwart their momentum and sideline the pro-democracy movement.[3] The pro-democrats accused Lam of using the pandemic as a pretext to stop people from voting and warned that doing so would "trigger a constitutional crisis in the city."[12]

Crackdown on opposition

On 30 June 2020, the National People's Committee Standing Committee (NPCSC) enacted the national security law to outlaw "separatism, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference" in Hong Kong, targeting the recent widespread protests and the pro-democracy movement. On 10 August 2020, the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force raided the offices of Next Digital, the parent company of prominent pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. Next Digital founder and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai was arrested and later charged of violating the national security law.[13][14][15]

In November, the NPCSC ruled in a decision which bars Legislative Council members from supporting Hong Kong independence, refusing to recognise Beijing's sovereignty over Hong Kong, seeking help from "foreign countries or foreign forces to interfere in the affairs of the region" or committing "other acts that endanger national security". As a result, four sitting legislators, Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki, Dennis Kwok and Kenneth Leung whose candidacies were invalidated by the Returning Officers in the later-postponed September election, were ousted from the legislature with immediate effect. After the disqualification, the 15 remaining pro-democracy legislators announced their resignation in protest of the decision. Adding to the previous disqualifications and resignations, the total number of vacancies jumped to 27 with virtually no opposition in the Legislative Council as a result.[16]

In January 2021, 53 pro-democracy activists, former opposition legislators, social workers and academics were arrested by the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force under the national security law for holding and running in the primaries for the originally scheduled Legislative Council general election. The security ministre accused the opposition activists of "subverting state power" for holding the primaries and said that they were suspected of "conspir[ing] to obtain 35 or more seats at the Legislative Council (LegCo) with a view to … forcing the resignation of the Chief Executive, as well as bringing the HKSAR Government to a complete standstill, … to paralyse the Government and seriously interfere in, disrupt and undermine the performance of government duties and functions".[17][18][19][20]

On 1 June 2021, the League of Social Democrats announced that it would boycott the election after leader Raphael Wong accused the Chinese Communist Party of "intending to wipe out dissidents". The move by the party comes after the arrests (under the national security law) of both its vice chairmen Leung Kwok-hung and Jimmy Sham and the conviction of secretary Avery Ng over an unauthorised assembly.[21]

New electoral system


Changes to the composition of the Legislative Council:

On 11 March 2021, the National People's Congress (NPC) passed a decision to rewrite the election rules in Hong Kong to impose a more restrictive electoral system, claiming it was to ensure a system of "patriots governing Hong Kong."[22] The new electoral system was further framed on 30 March decision by the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) which amended both the Annex I and Annex II of the Basic Law of Hong Kong which specifies the electoral methods for the Chief Executive (CE) and the Legislative Council respectively.[23][24]

Under the new system, The number of Legislative Council seats would be increased to 90 from 70, but the number of directly elected geographical constituency seats would be lowered to 20 from 35, while the trade-based indirectly elected functional constituency seats would remain 30, and the Beijing-controlled 1,500-seat Election Committee would elect 40 seats to the Legislative Council.[25] The five District Council (Second) "super seats" introduced in the 2010 electoral reform package and elected by all registered voters would be eliminated.[26]

For the functional constituencies, the District Council (First) which would have been held by the pro-democrats due to the 2019 District Council landslide would be eliminated, while another pro-democracy stronghold Health Services would be merged with Medical and Information Technology to be scrapped. Three new constituencies would be created, namely Commercial (Third), Technology and Innovation, and the HKSAR deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC), HKSAR members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and representatives of relevant national organisations.[27]

The remaining 20 directly elected seats would be divided into 10 geographical constituencies in which two members would be elected per constituency, making it a single non-transferable vote (SNTV) system.[28] Each candidate must receive nominations of at least two but no more than four members from each sector of the Election Committee. A Candidate Eligibility Review Committee would be set up to review and confirm the eligibility of candidates with the consultation of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security and the review of the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force. The decision of the Review Committee shall not be challenged legally.[27]

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the further postponement of the Legislative Council election from the originally scheduled September to December, swapping with the planned Election Committee subsector elections, as the reintroduction of the Election Committee seats to the Legislative Council meant that the new Election Committee had to be elected prior to the Legislative Council election. Meanwhile, the next Chief Executive election would be held in March 2022 as originally scheduled.[29]

In April, the SAR administration unveiled the Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021 which included a raft of changes to the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance that would "regulate acts that manipulate or undermine elections", criminalising anyone who incites the others not to vote or cast blank or spoiled ballots. Violators could face up to three years in prison.[30][31]

Opinion polling


By camps

Date(s)
conducted
Polling source Sample size Pro-democracy Pro-Beijing Undecided/Not Voting/Other Lead
19–22 October 2020 HKPORI 1,020 46%13%35%33%
30 August 2020 HKPORI 1,007 57%25%19%32%
15–18 June 2020 HKPORI 1,002 53%29%18%24%
17–20 March 2020 HKPORI 1,001 58%22%20%36%
4 September 2016 2016 election results 55.0%40.2%4.9%14.9%

References


  1. "Legco election to be held on December 19". The Standard. 13 April 2021.
  2. "LegCo General Election postponed for a year". Hong Kong Government. 31 July 2020.
  3. "Hong Kong Delays Election, Citing Coronavirus. The Opposition Isn't Buying It". New York Times. 31 July 2020.
  4. "China approves plan to veto Hong Kong election candidates". France 24. 11 March 2021.
  5. "Demanding Loyalty, China Moves to Overhaul Hong Kong Elections". The New York Times. 4 March 2021.
  6. "China sharply reduces elected seats in Hong Kong legislature". Associated Press. 30 March 2021.
  7. "Tam Yiu-chung suggests readying to put off polls". The Standard. 20 July 2020.
  8. "Politicians debate postponing Hong Kong election". Asia Times. 21 July 2020.
  9. "Decision to delay election not political". Hong Kong Government. 31 July 2020.
  10. "Beijing decides current Hong Kong lawmakers can remain on until postponed election". Hong Kong Free Press. 11 August 2020.
  11. Lindberg, Kari; Lung, Natalie (11 August 2020). "China Extends Term of Hong Kong Lawmakers by a Year, Reports Say". Bloomberg. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  12. "Hong Kong's Elections Were Already Rigged. Now They Won't Happen". The Diplomat. 1 August 2020.
  13. Ramzy, Austin; May, Tiffany (9 August 2020). "Hong Kong Publisher Jimmy Lai Is Arrested Under National Security Law". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  14. "Hong Kong pro-democracy tycoon Lai arrested". BBC News. 10 August 2020. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  15. Griffiths, James; Cheung, Eric. "Hong Kong media tycoon arrested under new national security law". CNN. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  16. "Hong Kong's pro-democracy legislators to resign en masse". Aljazeera. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  17. "HKSAR Government will not tolerate any offence of subversion". Hong Kong Government. 6 January 2021.
  18. Lau, Jessie (6 January 2021). "Hong Kong Police Arrest 53 Pro-Democrats on Subversion Charges". The Diplomat.
  19. Wang, Vivian; Ramzy, Austin; May, Tiffany (5 January 2021). "Hong Kong Police Arrest Dozens of Pro-Democracy Leaders". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  20. Zhung, Viola (6 January 2021). "Hong Kong Has Arrested Almost Everyone in the Political Opposition". Vice. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  21. Chau, Candice (1 June 2021). "Pro-democracy party says it won't take part in Hong Kong elections following overhaul ordered by Beijing". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  22. "Improving Hong Kong's electoral system important for developing high-quality democracy". China Today. 7 March 2021.
  23. "BREAKING: Beijing unanimously approves Hong Kong election overhaul, reducing democratic representation". Hong Kong Free Press. 30 March 2021.
  24. "Xi Finalizes Hong Kong Election Changes, Cementing China Control". Bloomberg. 30 March 2021.
  25. "中华人民共和国香港特别行政区基本法附件二香港特别行政区立法会的产生办法和表决程序". 香港中联办. 30 March 2021.
  26. "Overhaul abolishes district council presence". RTHK. 30 March 2021.
  27. "Annex II – Method for the Formation of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Its Voting Procedures" (PDF). Xinhua. 30 March 2021.
  28. "Interview: Election changes mark 'major regression' of democracy in Hong Kong, says analyst Ma Ngok". Hong Kong Free Press. 18 April 2021.
  29. "Hong Kong expects to hold LegCo election in December". Xinhua. 30 March 2021.
  30. "Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021". Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau.
  31. "Urging people to spoil or cast blank ballots in elections to become a crime in Hong Kong". Hong Kong Free Press. 13 April 2021.