Turnout rate to pick CE panel down
The turnout rate in the poll for the 1,200-strong panel that will select Hong Kong's next leader in March is expected to be lower than the turnout five years ago, despite the apparently greater interest in the chief executive contest this time around.
By 9.30pm, a provisional figure released by the electoral office said 58,963 people, or 24.82 per cent, had voted. This was up on the total 56,142 who voted in 2006, but the turnout rate then was 27.4 per cent.
In areas regarded as strongholds for pan-democrats - such as information technology, higher education and legal sub-sectors - turnout was about 4 per cent down.
Political analysts said this might hamper the chances of one of its candidates securing the 150 seats needed to guarantee a ticket to join the race on March 25.
Final results of the poll are expected this morning.
Henry Tang Ying-yen and Leung Chun-ying are definite starters.
It has not been decided whether Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan and Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood lawmaker Frederick Fung Kin-kee will represent the pan-democratic camp. New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee is still considering a run.
Four years ago, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's only rival was Alan Leong Kah-kit, leader of the Civic Party, who had no chance of winning.
The poll yesterday was the last where most Hongkongers were left as mere spectators, as the next chief executive election, in 2017, will be by universal suffrage.
A total of 766 seats in 24 sectors were contested by 1,300 candidates. They will join the 434 uncontested candidates, nominees from the religious sectors and ex-officio members, to form the 1,200-member Election Committee.
Pan-democrats said the contest between Tang and Leung was squeezing their room to win ballots.
Veteran Democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming urged electors to vote to enable pan-democrats' participation in the race.
'Sensitive issues such as the June 4 [military crackdown] will not be touched if only Tang and Leung are in the race,' Lee said after casting his ballot in the legal sector.
Political analyst James Sung Lap-kung, of City University, said a low turnout would be unfavourable to pan-democrats as there were substantial iron-clad votes for the pro-establishment camp. Sung predicted Tang would benefit most.
Dr Ma Ngok, a political scientist at Chinese University, said the pan-democrats might not be able to secure 150 seats amid a low turnout.