Hong Kong Basic Law Article 46

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Article 46 of the Hong Kong Basic Law states:

The term of office of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be five years. He or she may serve for not more than two consecutive terms.

This became a part of a legal dispute in 2005 after the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa. The question arose as to whether his successor would serve a full five-year term or would only serve the remainder of Tung's term. Those who supported him for a full five-year term, which included much of the Hong Kong legal community, argued that this is the straightforward reading of the article. But those who argued for a partial term argued that a partial term was the clear legislative intent of the article, as filling a partial term is the practice within the People's Republic of China.

The difference was in part due to different legal traditions. Although later modified by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, at the time of the controversy in 2005, the British Westminster system did not run elections according to fixed schedules, whereas the People's Republic of China tends to have terms and elections according to fixed schedules, similar to the practice of the United States.[citation needed]