2005 Hong Kong electoral reform

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The 2005 Hong Kong electoral reform was carried out in late 2005 for the selection of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong (CE) in 2007 and Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo) in 2008. The reform proposals were ultimately voted down by the pro-democracy camp.[1]

Background[edit]

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region established in 1997 was governed by the Hong Kong Basic Law, the "mini-constitution" of the region. The Basic Law set out the selecting method of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong (CE) for the first two terms and the Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo) for the first three terms. The selection method of the CE and LegCo was left blank for the 2007 Chief Executive and 2008 Legislative Council elections. Hong Kong Basic Law Article 45 promised that "the ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage" while Article 68 stipulated that "the ultimate aim is the election of all members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage".

The politics of the constitutional reforms have dominated Hong Kong agenda since the handover, as the pro-democrats demanded all along an early implementation of universal suffrage for the CE and LegCo elections.[1]

On 26 April 2004, the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) reached a verdict stating that the elections of the 2007 CE and 2008 LegCo would not be returned by universal suffrage, thereby defeating the democrats' appeal for 2007/08 universal suffrage.[1]

2005 blueprint[edit]

In March 2005, the unpopular Tung Chee-hwa resigned as Chief Executive, citing health reasons. Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang succeeded in an uncontested election with the controversy over NPCSC's constitutional interpretation.

On 28 October, the Donald Tsang administration announced a blueprint for reforming the 2007/08 methods.[1] The Fifth Report of the Task Force on Constitutional Development proposed limited reforms to the electoral methods for the 2007 and 2008 CE elections as constrained by the April 2004 NPCSC verdict.[2]

The report proposed to expand the 800-member Election Committee to 1,600, in the process of which including all 529 District Councillors, including the appointed members by the government, in order to widen the base of the indirect electorate. The government also proposed to add 10 seats to the 2008 LegCo, with five directly-elected through geographical constituencies and five functional constituencies elected by District Councillors. The government claimed that this was the best deal they could muster given the constraints of the NPCSC verdict.[2]

LegCo voting[edit]

According to Annex I and II of the Basic Law, an amendment of the electoral methods of CE and LegCo requires the consent of two-thirds majority of the LegCo, which means the 25 pro-democrats in the LegCo could veto the proposal if they vote en bloc against it.[2]

Initially, the mainstream democrats, represented by the Democratic Party and the Article 45 Concern Group which combined for 12 votes in the legislature indicated their willingness to approve the proposal on the condition that the 159 appointed members of the District Councils would be excluded in the expanded Election Committee. Many in the pro-democracy were ready to approve the proposal if the amendment be made, which included the Article 45 Concern Group. Although hardliners in the camp refused to make any concession[3]

In the following weeks, the political winds shifted abruptly to a radical direction.[3] The radical wing stepped up the call for full democracy by launching a signature campaign in newspapers. A dozen political parties and civil groups began for another mass rally just before the voting on the proposal. On 4 November, several democratic leaders met with religious leaders Bishop Joseph Zen and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming who persuaded them to vote en bloc against the government proposal. A week later, a political advertisement appeared on front pages of several newspapers showing a sandglass in black background with one written phrase: "Tell me, would I live to see universal suffrage?", addressed by "a 78-year-old man."[2]

As a result, the pro-democrats raised their stakes by demanding a clear road and timetable to full democracy. The claimed to veto the proposal unless the appointment system in the District Councils was abolished and a clear road map and timetable were offered.[2] The representatives from the NPCSC and Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO) invited social notables and legislators from the Article 45 Concern Group to a meeting but was turned down by the group. The Chief Executive also repeatedly appealed to the public for support on television and radio programmes.[3]

The democrats launched a rally on 4 December demanding universal suffrage drew estimated 100,000 people. The high turnout strengthened the cause of the democrats to veto the proposal. On 21 December 2005, the proposal was turned down with 24 democrats voted en bloc against it, although there were continuing rumours that some might switch their position and supported it, except for Lau Chin-shek who abstained.[2]

Opinion polling[edit]

A survey in late October 2005 showed that 58.8% of respondents accepted the government proposals while 23.6% disapproved, although 66% of the respondents supported a timetable for full democracy in the reform proposal . After the 3 December rally, a survey showed 49.9% accepted the proposal.[2][3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Fong, Brian C. H. (2014). Hong Kong’s Governance Under Chinese Sovereignty: The Failure of the State-Business Alliance After 1997. Routledge. p. 43.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Cheng, Joseph Y. S. (2007). The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in Its First Decade. City University of HK Press. pp. 64–8.
  3. ^ a b c d Poon, Kit (2007). The Political Future of Hong Kong: Democracy Within Communist China. Routledge. pp. 76–7.