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Legco elections 2012

The 2012 Hong Kong Legislative Council Election will be held on 9 September 2012 for the 5th Legislative Council since the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 

CommentInsight & Opinion

Voter turnout a work in progress

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 September, 2012, 2:04am

There are winners and losers in every election, but collectively, the people of Hong Kong can count themselves as victors after yesterday's Legislative Council polls. Votes were cast in an orderly, peaceful and mature manner, with few anomalies despite the introduction of a "one person, two votes" system. In keeping with past trends that matters of special significance draw voters, turnout was markedly higher than for the last election in 2008. A strong commitment has been shown to democracy and making our city a better place.

The final list of 70 successful candidates to help shape Hong Kong's future will likely be known within hours. Among them are the five people chosen from among seven hopefuls on the blue ballot paper for the super seats. Elected from across Hong Kong rather than for the traditional functional and geographical constituencies, the vote for them was the nearest the electorate has yet come to universal suffrage. A called-for boycott by the radical pro-democracy People Power party and some minor instances of confusion appear to have lowered the number of ballots cast for the new arrangement, but overall the outlook for our first truly democratic citywide election - for chief executive in 2017 - is healthy.

Interest and participation in elections since the first post-handover poll in 1998 has fluctuated. It peaked at 55 per cent in 2004 and fell to 45 per cent in 2008. Exactly what drove markedly more people to vote this time is a matter for greater analysis, but the introduction of the super seats, the national education controversy and concern about high property prices are likely to be among the reasons. Whatever they are and what boost they caused, though, the fact remains that turnout figures are still far below what they should be.

It takes time and effort to convince people there is no more important action to develop society and improve quality of life than voting. Those elected to Legco have that onerous task in addition to legislative duties. The behaviour of some lawmakers in the past has been found wanting and this has contributed to a sense among some in the community that the democratic system Hong Kong is moving towards is of limited worth. If that perception is to change, policies and laws must be formulated and put in place transparently, responsibly and promptly. The voter turnout yesterday proves that a majority have faith in the system and hold democratic ideals. Those elected have a duty to live up to expectations. Our future depends on it.

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