Just one in five aware of election next month

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 October, 2003, 12:00am

But a third of respondents are more eager to vote for district councillors than they were for legislators in 2000

Only one in five people are aware that the District Council elections will be held next month, according to the University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme.

Although the effect of the political uproar in July on the polls is still unknown, about 30 per cent of respondents said they felt more inclined to vote this time compared with the Legislative Council elections in 2000.

More people have attached importance to candidates' political affiliation and campaign platforms, although performance still mattered the most.

Of the 1,030 people polled between September 15 and 17, only 18.5 per cent knew that there would be an election in November.

The level of awareness is significantly lower compared with the previous district elections in 1999, in which 35.4 per cent of the respondents gave the right answer.

Those who said a candidate's position on livelihood issues would be their major consideration remained stable at 77 per cent.

Political affiliations, however, rose from 6.2 per cent in 1999 to 10.2 per cent this year. The rest opted for other unspecified reasons or simply had no particular views.

On the intention to vote, 67 per cent said they would go to the ballot box on November 23, compared with 69 per cent in 1999.

Candidates' performances and platforms are still considered more important than anything else. But those who attached more importance to platforms rose from 24.3 per cent in 1999 to 35.2 per cent this year.

Figures for performance slipped from 41.9 per cent to 37.9 per cent.

A candidate's political orientation increased from 2.2 per cent to 4 per cent.

Programme director Robert Chung Ting-yiu said the survey showed that voters' intentions at this preliminary stage of the ballot were more or less the same as they were four years ago.

'However, the political platforms and alignment appear to have become more important than in 1999.

'Since there might be a number of large-scale rallies and campaigns at a later stage, voters' intention to vote may surge after that,' Dr Chung said.

When asked to identify their point of view on the political spectrum, one in four considered themselves as 'democrats', while those identifying with the pro-China camp only accounted for 5 per cent.

About one-third called themselves 'moderates', and the rest claimed to be neutral or gave no definite answers.

Only 17 per cent said they would vote for a particular flagship, compared with 64.5 per cent who would choose the candidate on an individual basis.

While 49 per cent said their intention to vote had not changed compared with the Legco polls three years ago, 27.4 per cent said they were more eager to vote this time. Only 13.8 per cent said they had planned not to vote.

Speaking in an interview with Cable TV, Electoral Affairs Commission chairman Justice Woo Kwok-hing said he did not trust opinion polls as he did not know how the questions were asked.

He also said a high turnout would have a positive impact on Hong Kong's democratic development, although he declined to elaborate, saying the watchdog should not comment on political issues.