Leung Chun-ying

Legco election creates stumbling block for Leung

Chief executive's administration will now face a more divided legislature with a growing radical influence after Sunday's ballot, warn analysts

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 4:17pm

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying faces fresh challenges after Sunday's Legislative Council election produced a more fragmented legislature and signalled the continued rise of radicals in the pan-democratic camp.

A divided Legco will make it more difficult for Leung to pursue his agenda on such controversial issues as national education, standard working hours and electoral reform.

The Democratic Party lost two seats but, overall, pan-democratic candidates secured 27 seats in the 70-seat Legco, meeting the "critical minority" threshold of 24 seats to be able to block constitutional changes.

Chung Kim-wah, a social scientist at Polytechnic University, said a Legco with many small parties meant it would be more difficult for Leung's administration to secure majority support.

The pan-democrats won 18 of 35 directly elected seats in the five geographical constituencies, with 1.02 million votes (56.6 per cent) - fewer than in 2008, when they won 19 out of 30 seats.

Academics said the setback could be attributed to the failure of split-voting strategies and a lack of campaign co-ordination.

That is in contrast to rivals in the Beijing-loyalist camp who secured 17 directly elected seats with 765,761 votes (42.3 per cent). The results showed a further drop in the total share of votes held by the pan-democrats from their peak in 2004, when they held 61.9 per cent.

Still, the camp won six seats in the 28 traditional functional constituencies - two more than in 2008. And pan-democrats secured three of five "super seats" with 50.7 per cent of the 1.67 million ballots cast in the new district council (second) functional constituency.

Social scientist Chung said Leung would find gaining support from pan-democrats more difficult as the Democratic Party was no longer the camp's leader.

"One-quarter of pan-democratic supporters [or about 264,000 people] have voted for the radical candidates of People Power and the League of Social Democrats, whose [four] elected lawmakers will have more power to block Leung's policies by alternative means like filibustering," he said.

The Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong was the biggest winner, with all its nine slates in geographical constituencies winning. But one of the party's vice-chairmen, Lau Kong-wah, lost his bid for one of five "super seats" to party colleague Starry Lee Wai-king and Federation of Trade Unions honorary chief Chan Yuen-han.

The super seats are so called because 3.2 million people were eligible to vote in them.

Political scientist Dixon Sing Ming said "super seat" winners might enjoy a bigger popular mandate, but their influence should not be exaggerated as their votes carry the same weight as those of other lawmakers.

The new lawmakers are expected to scrutinise bills to change procedures for the 2016 Legco election, which Beijing has said will be more democratic, and the 2017 chief executive vote, which it has said can be conducted by universal suffrage.

The FTU's Chan has promised to push legislation on standard working hours. Cyd Ho Sau-lan, the Labour Party's winner in the Hong Kong Island constituency, is looking to pass a private bill for withdrawal of the national education curriculum.

Sing, the analyst, said the results and the record 1.83 million ballots cast reflected middle-class grievances against Leung's administration. But young voters expressed disappointment at the results on the internet. They said lawmakers could no longer speak for them and vowed to get their voice heard through protests.