FTU may back block vote for 2017 candidates

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 3:29am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 4:41am

The city's largest labour union may include a controversial block-voting system to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive poll in its electoral reform proposal.

Federation of Trade Unions vice-president and lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin also said yesterday that the FTU may propose a nominating committee be set up with 1,600 to 2,000 members.

Wong's revelation came days after the city's largest party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, indicated its support for the block-voting idea.

The move is likely to infuriate pan-democrats, who would struggle to get a candidate on the ballot in this system for the 2017 poll, which is due to be the first run under universal suffrage.

Each member of the nominating committee would have multiple votes under the block-voting system, depending on how many candidates are put forward for popular vote.

It is similar to the system used to select Hong Kong deputies for the nation's legislature, the National People's Congress. But it would mean a candidate with the support of a minority of nominating committee members, but who was not popular with the majority, would have no chance of getting on the ballot paper.

"[While] the block-voting system is one of the mainstream ideas among our members, it could restrict some people from running," Wong said. "An [alternative] would be to vote on each candidate separately, and see if they have at least half of the nominating committee's support. But it could make the nominating process cumbersome if, say, there were 20 candidates."

The nominating committee is expected to be modelled on the 1,193-member Election Committee that chose Leung Chun-ying in 2012, and was criticised as a "small circle" dominated by Beijing loyalists. Wong suggested many FTU members backed the idea of including all 400 directly elected district councillors as members, which would take the nominating committee to 1,600. Some 120 district councillors are on the Election Committee.

"But there could be technical problems," Wong said, as it could mean greater representation for the political sector than the business, professional and social sectors, which have 300 members each on the Election Committee.

"Some members proposed creating a fifth 'district council' sector with 400 members, with the other four sectors also expanding to 400 members," Wong said. "This would make a 2,000-strong nominating committee."

The FTU has been seeking its 400,000 members' opinions on reform for the past three months and will release a draft proposal at the end of the month. The government's five-month reform consultation ends on May 3.