Electoral reform in Hong Kong: Your guide to the chief executive nomination plans

How will the next Hong Kong chief executive be elected? Here, we look at the nomination plans put forward during public consultation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 3:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 10:09am

Beijing has promised that Hong Kong can choose its chief executive democratically for the first time in 2017. But how the election will work remains in question. Under the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, candidates must be put forward by a “broadly representative” nominating committee “in accordance with democratic procedures”.

Beijing has also set various criteria, including that the chief executive must “love the country and love Hong Kong” and that the nominating committee be formed “with reference to” the 1,200-strong election committee that chose Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in 2012.

Pan-democrats fear the committee will be dominated by Beijing loyalists and be used to “screen out” critics of Beijing; some in the camp say the public and political parties should have a role in selecting candidates. Below are 16 distinct plans from parties, academics and politicians that were submitted to a consultation on reform that ended on May 3.

The plans are ranked from those offering the most radical reform to the most conservative. Those marked with a * have been identified by a group of international academics commissioned by the Occupy Central pro-democracy campaign as meeting the international standards for universal suffrage under the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Hong Kong is a signatory.

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The first tier: Offering the deepest change. They suggest public and party nomination and meet international standards, but the proposals may be challenged under the Basic Law as they do not have a meaningful role to a nominating committee, and because they do not make reference to the election committee.

1) Scholarism and the Federation of Students*

The nominating committee is made up of all popularly elected lawmakers. Candidates would be nominated either by the public (one per cent of the 3.5 million registered voters – 35,000 people) or 8 per cent of nominating committee members. The committee cannot veto any candidate nominated by the public. Two-round voting system (under which a candidate must win more than 50 per cent of the vote to be elected; if no candidate does so in the first round of voting, the top two candidates go to a run-off election).

2) People Power*

The nominating committee is formed by all popularly elected lawmakers and elected district councillors. Candidates could be nominated by the public (one per cent of voters) or 5 per cent of popularly elected lawmakers or 5 per cent of elected district councillors. The committee cannot veto any candidate nominated by the public or councillors. Two-round voting system.

3) League of Social Democrats*

Candidates can be nominated by the public (1.5 per cent of registered voters – 52,500) or four popularly elected lawmakers or 25 elected district councillors, or a party which secured at least 5 per cent of the vote in the last Legislative Council election. The nominating cannot veto any candidates nominated by public or councillors. Two-round voting system. Chief executive could have party affiliation.

4) Alliance for True Democracy*

The nominating committee should be “as democratic as it can be” Candidates could be nominated by the public (one per cent of voters) (or nominating committee (no threshold offered) or a party which secured at least 5 per cent of the vote in the last Legco election. The nominating cannot veto any candidates nominated by public or parties on political grounds. Two-round voting system Chief executive could have party affiliation.

The middle tier: moderate proposals which do not include public nomination and from the nominating committee with reference to the existing election committee. They are compatible with the international standard for universal suffrage and are intended to sit within the legal framework set by the Basic Law.

5) Professor Simon Young Ngai-man*

Corporations should lose the right to vote for members of the nominating committee; details of its formation should be decided by an independent electoral reform committee A dual-track nomination system: A candidate who secures support from 5,000 voters would go put forward to an internal ballot of the nominating committee. Those who secure 12.5 per cent of the vote can enter the race. Alternatively, a candidate must secures nominations from 12.5 per cent of the committee to enter a separate ballot of nominating committee members. The top three candidates in this ballot, as long as the secure at least 12.5 per cent of votes can run in the race along with those nominated by the public and endorsed by the committee. Two-round voting system Chief executive could have party affiliation.

6) Professor Michael Davis*

Nominating committee would be 1,200 strong. Corporations lose the right to vote for members. Elected district councillors added; details to be left up to an independent working group. Allow public recommendation (contenders who secure 10,000 registered voters’ signatures will be put forward to the nominating committee for consideration). Candidates need nominations from 12.5 per cent of the committee to go forward to the election Two-round voting system.

7) 18 academics*

Nominating committee will be 1,200-strong. No corporate voting Allow public recommendation (contenders who secure the support of two per cent – 70,000 – of registered voters to be put to the nominating committee for consideration). Candidates need nominations from 12.5 per cent of the committee to go forward to the election Two-round voting system.

8) Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun

A 160-strong nominating committee, formed by all lawmakers, local deputies to the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee, a representative of the religious sector, representatives of civil servants and students. Candidates need nominations from 12.5 per cent of the committee to go forward to the election.

9) Hong Kong 2020*

A 1,400-strong nominating committee, of which 317 members are elected in a ballot of all registered voters; corporate voting abolished Candidates need nominations from 10 per cent of the committee to go forward to the election Chief executive could have party affiliation.

10) Lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah*

A 1,514-strong nominating committee with no corporate voting and including all elected district councillors. Candidates can be nominated by securing support from 150 nominating committee members (about 9.9 per cent) Preferential voting system for the election: voters rank candidates according to preference instead of picking a winner through a simple majority. Candidate who received fewest first-choice votes is eliminated and their votes reallocated to the voters’ second preference until one candidate has a majority. Chief executive could have party affiliation.

11) Professor Ho Lok-sang*

One-third of the 1,800-strong committee should be popularly elected. Candidates need the support of 10 per cent of the nominating committee. Each registered voter can cast one positive and one negative vote. The candidate who secures the most support (number of positive votes minus negative votes) would win the race. The winning candidate must vow to obey the constitution of China and Basic Law of Hong Kong and also adhere to the principle of “one country, two systems”; they could be prosecuted for violating the vow.

The third tier: the most conservative proposals which employ a high nominating threshold, a cap on the number of candidates and a nominating committee that is less representative. Such models might violate the international standard for universal suffrage.

12) Professor Albert Chen Hung-yee

Nominating committee with no corporate voting and including all elected district councillors. A two-stage nomination process: In the first stage, candidates must win support from 12.5 per cent of committee members to go through an internal ballot in which each member has one vote. The five candidates who secure the most votes win through, as long as they secure at least 12.5 per cent of the total No more than five people can run the race Preferential voting system.

13) New People’s Party

A 1,200–1,600-strong committee with no corporate voting and new sectors represented, including women; small and medium-sized enterprises. A two-stage nomination process: In the first stage, candidates must win support from 12.5 per cent of committee members to go through an internal ballot in which each member has one vote. The three/four candidates with the most votes get to run for election. Only three or four candidates can run. Two-round voting system.

14) Liberal Party

The 1,600-strong committee should include at least 100 more district councillors. A two-stage nomination process: In the first stage, candidates must win support from 12.5 per cent of committee members to go through an internal ballot. Each member can cast up to three votes. The top three candidates will get to stand. Only three candidates can run. The winner would need to secure at least 50 per cent of the public vote.

15) Federation of Trade Unions

The 1,200 to 1,600-strong committee should include 100 more district councillors and more representatives from the labour sector. A two-stage nomination process: In the first stage, candidates must win support from five per cent of the committee to run in an internal ballot, and must also vow to obey the constitution of China and the Basic Law. In the internal ballot, each candidate can cast up to three votes. Only candidates who win support from more than 50 per cent of the committee can go through. Only two or three candidates can run Two-round voting system.

16) Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong

The 1,200 to 1,600-strong nominating committee should include more district councillors; introduce representatives of women, youngsters and small and medium-sized enterprises. A two-stage nomination process: In the first stage, candidates must win support from 10 to 12.5 per cent of the committee to go to an internal ballot. In the internal ballot, each candidate can cast up to four votes. Only the top two to four candidates who win votes from more than 50 per cent of the committee can go through. No more than four candidates can run. Two-round voting system.

What happens next:

Despite the five-month consultation and years of debate, the reform process has yet to formally begin. Under the so-called five-step procedure the chief executive must first submit a report to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on whether the city needs to amend its electoral methods.

The second step is for the Standing Committee to give its approval. The focus of the reform will then return to Hong Kong, where the government is expected to announce its chosen reform package later this year and, possibly, declare another round of consultation. It will then have to submit two bills to the Legislative Council.

This is where the need for consensus comes in; Legco must pass any constitutional reform bill by a two-thirds majority, meaning pan-democrats have more than enough votes to block it. If the hurdle is cleared, the chief executive must give his formal approval, before the Standing Committee gives its final approval.

 

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