THIS is what commentators in the Chinese press have had to say about the Legco election campaign this week: Ming Pao: Chan Mong-sze, Social Science Research Centre, University of Hong Kong. The Democratic Party has built up strong support among voters, many of whom will vote for the party regardless of the identity of the candidates. The party's effect was strongest in New Territories East and New Territories West, where between 70 and 80 per cent of those who said they would vote for the Democrats named the party without being prompted. Surveys also found leading Democratic candidates Martin Lee Chu-ming on Hong Kong Island, and Lau Chin-shek and James To Kun-sun in Kowloon West enjoyed high personal appeal. By contrast, support for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong largely derived from the personal appeal of its key members. In Kowloon East, for example, the DAB ticket is supported by about one-fifth of respondents. More than 70 per cent would vote for the DAB because of Chan Yuen-han. Hong Kong Economic Journal: Lau Nai-keung. Even though the electoral rules of the current election are different from those in 1995, the outcome is largely predictable. This is because the new rules do not apply to the 21 old functional constituencies, which still follow the old rules and where the winning chances of the candidates can already be gauged by the outcome of consultation. Competition is most severe in the geographical constituencies. Even then, adoption of the proportional representation system has enhanced the predictability of the outcome over the 'simple majority' system used in 1995. Only the outcome of elections in the nine new functional constituencies and the Election Committee is unpredictable. The winning chances of candidates in the new FCs will depend on their personal networks. In the Provisional Legislative Council election, members were elected by a 400-member Election Committee. This time, the committee has 800 members, of which only about 200 can be considered 'pro-Beijing'. Putting aside the question of whether Xinhua will be involved in co-ordinating the outcome, a candidate who wants to win is expected to have to get at least 300 votes. Much effort and brain power will be needed to get that extra 100 votes. Wen Wei Pao: Lai Tze-chun. Xinhua has denied the rumour that it asked a candidate in the Information Technology sector, Edward Yung Kai-ning, to withdraw from the election. Even the reporter who first reported the rumour clarified Mr Yung did not say anything to that effect. The truth has come out. Nevertheless, some political parties still exploit the incident to generate a 'controversy' over whether Xinhua should be regulated by election laws or whether it is above the law. So far, nothing has happened to suggest the central Government or its agencies in Hong Kong are intervening in the election. However, as election day comes closer, people should not be surprised there will be more similar fabrications. Hong Kong Economic Journal: Cheung Ka-wai. The Democratic Party faces a hidden worry in that the political climate is not in its favour. This election lacks any political issue which may rally the public. In 1995, Governor Chris Patten's political reform lent support to them. In this election, however, it does not help the Democrats that none of their worst fears about a crackdown from Beijing after the transfer of sovereignty has materialised. They shifted gears to put their emphasis on livelihood issues. But much of their effort has been jettisoned by the Financial Secretary's caring Budget. Ming Pao: Ma Er. Voter turnout rates in past elections have been low because people do not think their ballots can influence government policy or improve their livelihood. Judging from the present campaign atmosphere, one cannot be optimistic about the upcoming poll's turnout rate, which is likely to be about 35 per cent. Overseas experience is that a proportional representation system leads to a higher turnout because voters have more choices and the chances of their favoured candidate getting a seat is higher. By contrast, under a winner-takes-all system, many may not bother to vote because their favourite is certain to win or lose. Nevertheless, the outcome for this election is likely to be low because, unlike in 1991 and 1995, it is not preceded by district board and municipal council elections. Moreover, since the star candidates of all parties are almost assured of a seat under the proportional representation system, the parties are not campaigning as hard as they would under a winner-takes-all system. Ta Kung Pao: Nan Yan. On April 20, the Democratic Party published a half-page advertisement carrying the headline: 'How can the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong face Wang Dan?' By citing the DAB's decision not to support a call on the Chinese Government to release Wang in a pre-1997 Legco motion debate, the Democratic Party sought to vilify the DAB out of context. It showed this avowedly 'democratic' party would do anything, however unsavoury, to raise its chances of winning an election.