60/40 split in the popular vote prevails despite calmer climate The share of the popular vote secured by the pan-democratic camp in Sunday's Legco election decreased by almost four percentage points, but political analysts say the drop is less than expected despite a low turnout rate and a calmer political climate. The votes clinched by the candidates fielded by the Democratic Party, the Civic Party, the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, The Frontier, the Confederation of Trade Unions and non-affiliated pan-democrats accounted for 58.1 per cent of the total number of valid votes. It compared with the 61.9 per cent won by candidates from the pan-democratic camp in the 2004 Legco election and 60.5 per cent in 2000. In absolute terms, the pan-democratic camp netted 881,184 votes in five geographical constituencies this year, 215,088 less than in 2004. The pan-democrats saw the biggest drop in their share of votes in Kowloon West where they won 64.4 per cent of valid votes, 8.4 percentage points lower than last time. The proportion of votes they netted in Kowloon East was 7.2 percentage points lower. The Beijing loyalist camp made a little headway in the direct election battlefields. Candidates from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the Liberal Party and the Federation of Trade Unions and other government-friendly politicians collected about 39 per cent of valid votes, compared with 37.2 per cent in 2004 and 34.4 per cent in 2000. Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at Chinese University, said the rule of thumb that pan-democrats receive 60 per cent of the popular vote and the pro-government camp 40 per cent remained largely unchanged despite the slight drop in the pan-democratic share. 'It's a surprise that the pan-democrats can manage to have close to a 60 per cent share of votes although ... turnout is 10 percentage points lower than that in 2004,' he said. Ma Ngok, associate professor of Chinese University's department of government and public administration, said the drop in the share of votes for the pan-democratic camp was lower than he expected. Some pan-democratic leaders had feared their share of the vote in the direct election would fall considerably following the Beijing Olympics and the visit by China's gold medallists a week before the poll. 'The election results show the political cleavages in the community are still entrenched even after Beijing set the timetable for universal suffrage and improvement in Hong Kong's economy,' Dr Ma said. For the pan-democratic camp, winning 19 out of 30 seats in the geographical constituencies with a lower share of the popular vote was a pleasant surprise. In 2004, it won only 18 seats with a 61.9 per cent share. The camp won four seats in the Hong Kong Island constituency with 53.4 per cent vote share. In 2004 it won three with 59.5 per cent of the votes. Dr Ma believed that the better-than-expected performance of the pan-democrats in the direct election stemmed from spontaneous splitting of votes by its supporters.