The Chief Executive (CE) election will be held this Sunday (March 26th). 1,194 Election Committee members will elect the new CE, who will lead the HKSAR government for the coming five years. The three candidates are John Tsang Chun-wah, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Woo Kwok-hing. We have compiled some basic information about the election to prepare you for it.
1. What is the Election Committee?
The 2017 electoral reform proposal was voted down by the Legislative Council, and that means the election method of this CE Election will be the same as the one in 2012: the CE will be elected by 1,200 Election Committee members. The Committee is comprised of members from 38 sectors, each with the power to cast a vote decisive for the future of Hong Kong. The majority of Election Committee members are elected by about 240,000 voters - this is less than 7% of registered electorate in Hong Kong. This may explain why the Election Committee is often criticised for lacking a sufficient electorate base.
There are only 1,194 members in the current Election Committee. Some members hold multiple positions that would automatically earn them ex-official membership of the Committee, while Yau Wai-ching and Leung Chung-hang of Youngspiration both lost their seats in the Election Committee from the oath-taking fiasco. Of all the members in the committee, 327 belong to the non-establishment camp and the vast majority of the remaining seats are held by the pro-establishment camp.
2. What is the election procedure?
The 1st round of voting will be held on the morning of March 26th at 9 a.m. Election Committee members can vote for one of the three candidates in a secret ballot. The candidate must receive over 600 votes to win the election. If none of the candidates receive more than 600 votes in the first round, the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated, while the other two with more votes will enter the 2nd round of voting. If the two candidates with the fewest votes receive the same number of votes in the 1st round, the voting process will be repeated until there are only two candidates left for the 2nd round.
The 2nd round of voting will be held in the afternoon. If also none of the candidates receive more than 600 votes in the 2nd round, the election will be adjourned for 42 days, and will recommence on May 7th.
The fifth CE will be sworn in on July 1st.
3. How is the CE appointed?
According to Article 45 of the Basic Law, the CE "shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the Central People's Government.” Some believe that the right to appoint was originally intended to be “honorary” and “symbolic”. However, a few Central Government officials recently stated that the Central Government in fact possesses a substantial right to appoint. Chen Hung-yee, a member of the Basic Law Committee and a Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong, expressed earlier his concurrence with the interpretation of the Central Government officials. This implies that the Central Government can decide not to appoint the CE elected. However, the legal basis and the procedure following the refusal to appoint the CE are not mentioned in the Basic Law. Chen believes that a lot of complications will arise if the Central Government decides to exercise this power.
郝的立法原意 旨在圍魏救趙 | 沈舟 - 《蘋果日報》
3人爭戰 習近平不干預 - 《都市日報》
4. Does public opinion matter in this election?
In this election, all candidates have utilised different media platforms to rally public support. According to the most recent opinion poll (on March 24th), John Tsang has a support rate of 56%, higher than that of Carrie Lam (28%), while Woo Kwok-hing has a support rate of 9%. The Director of the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme Chung Ting-yiu points out that although the majority of citizens do not have the right to vote in this election, the resignation of Tung Chee-hwa and Leung Chun-ying’s decision to not seek re-election show that popular opinion do play a part in influencing politics. Pan-democratic Election Members, the “Pan-dem 300+” who now hold more than 300 votes, claimed that they will vote for the candidate with the most popular support in conjunction with the result of the Civil Referendum.
In addition, according to the data collected and analysed by the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme, there is a correlation between the past three CE’s popularity at the time of swearing in and the length of their “honeymoon periods”. The first CE Tung Chee-hwa had an rating of 64.5 (out of 100) at the beginning of term, and his "honeymoon period”, with rating higher than 60, lasted for 10 months. Donald Tsang had an rating of 72.3 when first sworn in, the highest among the three, and his correspondingly lasted for three years. Leung Chun-ying had the lowest rating of 52.5 when first inaugurated in 2012, so it was claimed by some analysts that he never even had a “honeymoon period”. The more popular support there is for the government, the easier it is for the government to administer. Therefore, it is worth thinking as to whether popularity during the election period would actually affect the governance.
Although majority of the public cannot directly elect the next CE, we shall pay close attention to the election to see whether popular opinion can sway the election and the governance of the new administration.
特首選舉系列（七）：主流意見 | 鍾庭耀 - 《立場新聞》
香港民意戰的「關鍵多數」 | 陳智傑 - 《明報》