Legislative Council elections 2016

Middle-class voters turned out in big numbers for localists in Hong Kong Legislative Council polls, analysis shows

Study by the Post finds six localists grabbed a substantial portion of middle-class neighbourhood votes to win Sunday’s elections

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 September, 2016, 11:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 September, 2016, 1:24pm

Six localists grabbed a substantial portion of middle-class neighbourhood votes to win Sunday’s Legislative Council elections, according to a study of the results by the South China Morning Post.

Commentators and winners suggested various reasons for the trend, including election strategies and disillusionment with the pan-democrats’ track record in recent years.

Middle-class voters on Hong Kong Island appear to have taken to a shine to Nathan Law Kwun-chung, chairman of the post-Occupy youth activist group Demosisto, as nine out of 10 polling stations that provided him with the most votes were set up in private residential estates.

Watch: Big wins for pro-democracy camp in 2016 Legco election

Although Law had the backing of voters across his constituency, much of his support came from Eastern district. A polling station in Heng Fa Chuen in Chai Wan, a large private housing estate, provided him with 1,177 votes. Another 1,074 votes came through a nearby station in the Yue Wan public housing estate.

Law, who at 23 is the youngest lawmaker in the history of the legislature, also received significant support from a station near Kornhill Gardens in Quarry Bay.

Explaining his popularity with the middle class, Law said: “They are more likely to have received Westernised education and so might have a better understanding of what democracy is about.”

The pro-democracy activist said Eastern district was one of his targets for heavy campaigning.

In Kowloon West, Democracy Groundwork’s Lau Siu-lai and Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching shared many strongholds, with their 10 biggest vote clusters from polling stations in Hung Hom, Kowloon City and Yau Ma Tei.

Many of the polling centres where the duo performed best were in the vicinity of private residential developments, such as Jubilant Place in Kowloon City, Whampoa Garden and Royal Peninsula in Hung Hom.

Lau won more than 20 per cent of her votes in middle-class areas. She was most popular in the neighbourhood around the Yaumati Catholic Primary School polling station, where she won 1,329 votes.

Lau said while her platform covered grass-roots issues such as demands for a universal pension scheme, her strategy might also have secured her strong support among the middle class.

“I don’t have a very resourceful party backing me so I can only rely on the internet for promotion, which I think tends to reach more middle-class voters,” she said.

As for Yau, her strongest support base was in Whampoa Garden, which netted her 829 votes.

In last year’s district council elections, the Youngspiration candidate narrowly lost to pro-Beijing lawmaker Dr Priscilla Leung Mei-fun in Whampoa East.

Veteran activist Eddie Chu Hoi-dick was the biggest winner among the localists, bagging a whopping 84,121 votes in New Territories West.

His strongest support base was in the Pat Heung village area, where his group Land Justice League has engaged in extensive grass-roots work. He won 1,256 votes there.

Six out of 10 polling stations that gave him the best results were in private residential areas around Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun and Tin Shui Wai.

Only two of the localist winners – Civic Passion’s Cheng Chung-tai and Youngspiration’s Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang – had more public than private housing estate polling stations in their top 10 performing areas.

Seven of Baggio Leung’s top 10 polling stations were also in the neighbourhoods that coughed up the most number of votes for Hong Kong Indigenous candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei in the February by-election. He managed to hold on to Edward Leung’s support base after he had to step in because the latter was disqualified over his pro-independence credentials.

Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung was not surprised that the localist winners had so much middle-class backing.

“Traditionally, pro-democracy candidates perform better in middle-class areas, while the pro-establishment camp usually does better in public housing estates,” he said. “That’s because to win votes in public housing estates, it requires very strong grass-roots networking.”

For election results, facts and figures, visit our Legislative Council election Counting Room

Additional reporting by Jessie Lau