A proposal tabled by the Alliance for True Democracy, a group comprising 26 of the 27 pan-democratic lawmakers, won the unofficial "referendum" on Hong Kong's electoral reform that ended last night.
It secured 331,427 votes, or 42.1 per cent of the 787,767 valid ballots cast during the 10-day exercise, which was organised by the Occupy Central movement.
A joint blueprint put forward by Scholarism and the Federation of Students came second with 302,567 votes (38.4 per cent), followed by a People Power's proposal, which clinched 81,588 votes (10.4 per cent).
All three call for the public to be allowed to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive election, an idea repeatedly dismissed by Beijing as inconsistent with the Basic Law.
However, the Alliance’s “three track” proposal would allow the public, the nominating committee, as well as political parties, to put forward candidates.
Under their plan, candidates can be nominated by 35,000 registered voters or by a party which secured at least five per cent of the vote in the last Legco election. It did not specify on the formation of the nominating committee, only stating that it should be “as democratic as it can be”.
The two other proposals would only allow the public and a nominating committee to put forward candidates.
In addition to the question of electoral reform, about 88 per cent of voters agreed that the Legislative Council should veto any reform proposal put forward by the government if it failed to meet international standards, compared with 7.5 per cent who disagreed.
Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a co-organiser of Occupy Central, said: "Today should go down in the history of Hong Kong's constitutional development as the referendum was the largest scale of expression of public opinion in the city's history."
He said they would submit the results to Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.
A total of 798,957 people had voted since the exercise began on June 20. Discounting 11,190 repeat votes caused by people casting ballots both online and at polling stations, the number of valid votes cast was 787,767.
More than 6,000 votes cast at polling stations had still to be counted.
Watch: Hong Kong residents vote on the last day of unofficial referendum
Alliance convenor Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek said: "In the last 10 days, Hong Kong people have spoken clearly that they want universal suffrage. They agree that public nomination is the most effective mechanism [to fight] against screening."
Tai said the campaign would push for the winning proposal, and if the government refused to accept it and tabled a different proposal, the civil disobedience movement would hold another referendum to decide whether to mobilise supporters to block traffic in Central.
The students' proposal calls for the nominating committee for candidates to comprise only directly elected lawmakers; People Power wants it to include both elected lawmakers and district councillors; the alliance does not suggest in detail how it should be formed.
Commenting on the poll for the first time, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government would take note of the opinions. But she stressed again that electoral reform must comply with the Basic Law, saying officials "could not deviate from the legal considerations".
A government spokesman said it was the common aspiration of the people and government of Hong Kong to implement universal suffrage for the 2017 election. But public nomination was unlikely to be adopted in view of controversies relating to the legal, political and operational aspects of the proposal.
Many voters yesterday said their decision was motivated by the approval of funding in the Legislative Council on Friday for developing two new towns in the northeastern New Territories. Engineer Alan Lam said this was "one of many issues which showed officials stand on the opposite side of public opinion".
"At least we have to let them know that we won't stay silent."