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Legislative Council elections 2016

Photo finish: tight race for last super seat in Hong Kong elections

Leading pan-democrat and pro-establishment candidates locked in battle that is too close to call for coveted trade-based Legco seat this Sunday

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 September, 2016, 10:25pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 September, 2016, 3:46pm

A breathtaking, photo-finish battle to the bitter end can be expected in the “super seats” race this Sunday as two rising stars from the pan-democratic and pro-establishment blocs fight for the final ticket to the legislature.

The University of Hong Kong’s ongoing rolling poll has suggested the popularity of the Democratic Party’s Roy Kwong Chun-yu, a romance novelist, has been consistently above three of his pan-democrat competitors.

Watch: battle for the last Legco ‘super seat’

He is running neck and neck with Holden Chow Ho-ding, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, for the fifth seat of the District Council (Second) functional constituency. Both candidates have a respectable popularity rating of 9 per cent.

The five so-called super seats are contested by district councillors and returned by 3.5 million registered voters who get to cast a second vote in the trade-based constituency, in addition to the geographical constituencies.

According to data analysis by media intelligence firm Meltwater, Kwong and Chow both lead the way as the most mentioned candidates on social media, with 984 and 652 mentions respectively from June 30 to August 28.

The pan-democrats won big at the last legislative elections four years ago by grabbing three of the five super seats, after DAB veteran Lau Kong-wah lost the race to Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan.

Veteran Democrat James To Kun-sun, the Neighbourhood Workers Service Centre’s Leung Yiu-chung, the DAB’s Starry Lee Wai-king and Wong Kwok-hing, of the Federation of Trade Unions, are expected to win seats. That means all eyes are on whether the pro-establishment camp can manage the last seat this year.

Both Chow and Kwong have made emergency appeals to voters this week.

“I am running a very tight race now with pan-democrats as ... I am still lagging behind,” Chow told the Post, urging the “silent majority” who are sick of the filibustering in Legco to vote for him.

Legco ‘super seat’ candidates discuss push for Hong Kong independence, chief executive race at election forum

But the pro-establishment solicitor faces one less problem than arch-rival Kwong. The Beijing-friendly camp has fielded only three slates this year, compared with six people fighting against each other on the pan-democratic side.

The Civic Party’s Sumly Chan Yuen-sum and the NeoDemocrats’ Kwan Wing-yip have both vowed to fight until the end, despite recording only 6 per cent and 1 per cent in popularity on Thursday.

When asked if he would urge voters to back Kwong in the next couple of days instead to secure the camp’s majority in the constituency, Kwan’s answer was a resounding “no”.

“How can I help Kwong if my popularity is so low, as suggested?” he said.

Chan insisted he had received positive feedback from voters and argued he was also fighting for the last seat. “I hope the voters know that, indeed, I have a chance of winning.”

Kwong said he had faith in Hongkongers’ wisdom.

“I believe Hongkongers would vote for the candidate who has the highest chance to grab the last seat at such critical time,” he told the Post as he canvassed votes in Kwai Tsing early Tuesday.

For a full list of candidates, please click here.