Turnout comparable to mature democracies

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 5:52pm

The record voter turnout approaches or matches those recorded in democracies in Asia and the west, leading academics to say it reflects the maturity and rising political awareness of Hong Kong people.

A total of 55.63 per cent of the 3.2 million registered voters cast their ballots on Sunday, surpassing the 1998 record of 53.39 per cent.

Only 51 per cent of eligible voters in the United States took part in the 2000 presidential election, while the turnout in the mid-term congressional election has been about 35 per cent for the past few years.

Nearly 60 per cent of registered voters went to polling stations during Britain's parliamentary election in 2001, compared with the voter turnout of 64.4 per cent for France's parliamentary poll in 2002.

Japan's upper house election in July saw a 56.57 per cent turnout, just one percentage point higher than the turnout in Sunday's Legco poll.

The turnout for South Korea's parliamentary election in April was 59.9 per cent, compared with 57.2 per cent in 2000.

A total of 66 per cent of Taiwan voters cast their ballots in the Legislative Yuan election in 2001 and the voter turnout for the 2001 parliamentary election in Singapore, where voting is compulsory, saw a 94.6 per cent turnout.

Ma Ngok, a political scientist at the University of Science and Technology, said Hong Kong voters' enthusiasm was particularly commendable given the fact that the election could not change the government.

'In other fully-fledged democracies, the governments are formed as the result of elections,' he said. 'But Hong Kong voters can only elect half of the seats in the Legco election and regime change is not at stake.'