Universal suffrage in Hong Kong

Timeline: the long and winding road to universal suffrage in Hong Kong

The key signposts along the long road to the chief executive handing his report to Beijing on Tuesday

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 July, 2014, 11:25am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm



  • The National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee interprets the Basic Law and comes up with a “five-step process” for amending the methods for selecting the chief executive and for forming the legislature.
  • The NPC Standing Committee rules out universal suffrage for the chief executive election in 2007 and the Legislative Council elections in 2008. It also decides to keep the functional constituency system, by which half of the seats in the legislature are returned.

"Beijing's last word on elections in 2007 and 2008", April 27, 2004



  • The government issues reform proposals for the 2007 chief executive election and the formation of the legislature in 2008. It suggests the membership of the Election Committee be doubled to 1,600 and the number of seats in the legislature be increased by 10 to 70.

"Main points of the proposal", October 20, 2005


  • The government-proposed reform package fails to win endorsement by the legislature.

"Defeated hands down", December 22, 2005



  • The NPC Standing Committee decides that the chief executive might be selected by universal suffrage in 2017, and after that, all seats in the legislature might be returned by direct elections.

"Beijing delivers its suffrage draft", December 27, 2007



  • The government releases a consultation document on the new electoral arrangements for the chief executive poll and the legislative elections in 2012. It mainly deals with the expansion of the Election Committee membership. It also seeks to increase the number of seats in the legislature from 60 to 70, and to allow all district council seats in the legislature to be filled by elected district councillors in 2012.

“Government 'to propose larger election panel'  November 13, 2009



  • Five pan-democratic lawmakers resign, to trigger by-elections that they see as a de facto referendum on universal suffrage in 2012.

"Lawmakers to resign for by-election"   January 19, 2010


  • Based on the previous consultation document, the government releases its proposals on political reforms.

"Tang to unveil revised electoral proposals", April 14, 2010


  • Legco by-elections are held. All five of the lawmakers who resigned in January get elected again.

"Pro-democracy lawmakers win back seats in by-elections", May 18, 2010

  • Senior leaders of the Democratic Party hold a meeting on political reform with officials from Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong.

"Meeting yields no results", May 26, 2010



  • The government puts forward proposals to the legislature to reform the arrangements for the chief executive election and Legco polls in 2012. The Democratic Party supports the government proposals because they adopt the party’s suggestion that the five new district council functional-constituency seats be chosen by electors who do not have a vote in other functional constituencies. The reform package gets passed by the legislature.

"Cheers and jeers for political reform vote", June 25, 2010



  • The government launches a five-month public consultation on electoral reforms for the 2017 chief executive elections and 2016 Legco elections.

"Electoral reform could take as long three years to agree", history suggests, December 4, 2013



  • Occupy Central protest organisers hold a 10-day unofficial public poll on models for the 2017 chief executive election. All models call for the public to be able to nominate candidates. About 720,000 people vote.

"Our voice must be heard, say voters in unofficial Occupy Central referendum", June 23, 2014

  • The State Council issues a white paper on Hong Kong. It reiterates Beijing’s commitment to supporting Hong Kong’s move towards universal suffrage, but warns against letting an “unpatriotic” chief executive take the helm.

"Beijing emphasises its total control over Hong Kong in white paper", June 10, 2014



  • Organisers say 510,000 people take to the streets to call for true democracy for Hong Kong.

"Annual march biggest in recent years, with the focus democracy in 2017", June 2, 2014