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Legislative Council elections 2016

New Legco likely to mean more fractures – and an even less friendly approach to Hong Kong and mainland governments

Two pan-democrat parties plan to review approach after losing all seats

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 September, 2016, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 September, 2016, 11:47pm

Hong Kong’s legislature is further splintered after Sunday’s citywide elections, with eight newly elected pan-democrats either a one-man band or the sole representative of their party in council.

As such, the results look set to create more headaches for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s administration as lobbying with the pro-democracy forces now becomes more difficult.

Only survivor

Two pan-democratic parties, NeoDemocrats and the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL), also lost their say in Legco after voters ditched their only representatives, Gary Fan Kwok-wai and Frederick Fung Kin-kee respectively.

Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung was the only survivor from the once four-strong Labour Party. The progressive alliance of People Power and the League of Social Democrats also lost a seat after retiring veteran Albert Chan Wai-yip failed to pass the torch to his protege Raphael Wong Ho-ming.

Meanwhile, localist group Youngspiration secured one seat for Yau Wai-ching and another for Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang. It will become the third biggest pro-democracy party in the legislature, after the Democratic Party and Civic Party.

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Among the independent newcomers are Occupy movement student leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung of Demosisto, veteran social activist Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Polytechnic University lecturer Lau Siu-lai. They all appear set to take a confrontational approach towards the government.

‘Tense relationship’

On Monday, Law didn’t say whether he would join the weekly lunch meeting of the traditional pan-democrats, but said he was open to working with them.

Dr Ma Ngok, a Chinese University political scholar, said: “The veteran pan-democrats know well how to deal with the government. It might take some time for these new faces to learn [the tactics].”

Ma also said the tense relationship between the government and legislators would not improve as long as Leung was at the helm.

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The chamber’s new complexion could mean even more strained relations between lawmakers and the mainland.

Fung was one of the few pan-democrats willing to speak to the central government.

In 2010 he, with leaders of the Democratic Party, held talks with mainland officials on voting reform for the 2012 elections.

That led to 3.2 million people without a vote in a functional constituency being given a vote in the five “super seats”.

Polarised political landscape

Most of Sunday’s six winners from localist groups are not eager to speak to the local or central governments.

And the poor showings of three candidates advocating a moderate approach to fighting for democracy – including the Third Side’s Tik Chi-yuen and two candidates from Path of Democracy – are another testament to the increasing lack of room for moderates in the sharply polarised political landscape.

Upon losing their seats, ADPL and NeoDemocrats both said they needed to find new ways of getting their messages out.

Tam Kwok-kiu, of the ADPL, who lost the race in Kowloon West, said the result reflected his party’s deficient online campaigning, especially compared with Youngspiration, which managed to win wide support in a short time.

“We need to reflect on our position as well as election strategies,” Tam said. NeoDemocrats’ outgoing

Fan said his party would meet to reflect on what went wrong.

Tam said his party would not consider merging with the Democratic Party, a suggestion floated a few years ago.

Considering switching party

“We might consider consolidating with other parties should there be genuine universal suffrage to return our chief executive, but this is not something we have today,” he said.

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“I still believe under the proportional representation system small parties would [benefit from running] separately.”

It was understood that a number of ADPL district councillors, dissatisfied with the party’s election strategy, were considering switching to the Democratic Party.

Ma believed that could eventually happen, as those councillors would not find much difference in working with the Democrats.

“The election has also proven small parties would no longer have an edge over independent candidates as they in fact do not enjoy many more resources than them,” he added.