Chief executive secures better-than-expected vote; pledges to strive for universal suffrage Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday pledged a government of consensus in his second term after securing an expected victory in the chief executive poll with 649 votes. As the result was announced, Mr Tsang, 62, choked back tears, while supporters cheered and opponents chanted slogans calling for universal suffrage. Mr Tsang received eight votes more than the nominations he received from the 795-member Election Committee. His challenger, Alan Leong Kah-kit of the Civic Party, received 123 votes, nine fewer than the nominations he received to force the first contested chief executive election since the handover - and first to have a pan-democrat challenger. 'The third SAR government, under my leadership, will be a government that represents all social strata and one that strives to balance the interests of all sectors,' Mr Tsang said. 'My government will have consensus-building as its governance style. Officials will deepen their contact with society and listen to the people. Policy formulation will take a bottom-up approach.' Mr Tsang pledged to strive for universal suffrage and to adopt a 'pragmatic and proactive' approach in resolving differences over the issue. Other commitments included making the city Asia's premier financial centre and tackling poverty with innovative ideas. Yesterday's election, lasting barely three hours, brought together tycoons, professionals, unionists and lawmakers at the AsiaWorld-Expo at Chek Lap Kok to return Hong Kong's leader for the 2007-12 term. Most of Mr Tsang's support came from government supporters and Beijing loyalists. His victory was a foregone conclusion but the 11 blank votes cast was taken as a barometer of dissatisfaction with the ex-civil servant. Another five votes were invalid and one was unused. The number of blank ballots fell within the estimates of Mr Tsang's campaign team. Mr Tsang described the voting outcome as 'not bad'. He said his campaign was to forge social consensus rather than fuel class struggle. 'Let us resolve to put aside our differences and work together for our tomorrow,' he said. Mr Leong also claimed success, saying the election had brought about a fundamental change that could not be undone. Vowing to run again in 2012, Mr Leong said he did not know why nine of those who had nominated him chose not to vote for him but said it would be unrealistic and meaningless to focus on the number of votes secured in a 'small-circle' poll. In the afternoon, Mr Tsang undertook a victory parade to thank the public, most of whom did not have a vote, for their support. The trip, aboard an open-topped double-decker bus, took him to Tsuen Wan, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Kwun Tong and Causeway Bay. The central government's liaison office, the Office of the Foreign Ministry Commissioner and the People's Liberation Army in Hong Kong issued separate congratulations to Mr Tsang. 'His re-election fully demonstrates the recognition from different sectors of his service,' the liaison office statement said. Congratulating Mr Tsang, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang said the election marked an important milestone on the road to universal suffrage. She said Mr Tsang must provide leadership that was representative of the aspirations of people from all sectors and sustain the confidence vested in him to govern in their interests. Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan urged Mr Tsang to improve the accountability of political appointees and to open up statutory bodies to members of the opposition camp. He said it was hard for the public to tell whether Mr Tsang had promised anything in exchange for the support he received during his campaign from allies in the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the Liberal Party, the Federation of Trade Unions and The Alliance. DAB vice-chairman Tam Yiu-chung said the party would welcome more involvement in the policymaking process, although that had not been a condition for its support of Mr Tsang. Mr Tam said he hoped to see more interaction with the chief executive on party political affairs, such as in the upcoming district council elections.