Choosing whom to vote for may become a lot more complex in the 2012 Legislative Council elections, but it seems unlikely major changes will take place. The problem is this: Five new seats are being created in the geographical constituencies as a result of the government's reform package. If no new constituencies are created, that could lead to as many as 10 seats in some of the larger districts, such as New Territories West. Voters would have to choose from an even higher number of candidate lists than in the past. In 2008, 42 candidates stood in New Territories West, divided into 14 lists. They were fighting for eight seats. But there is little appetite among the major parties for the formation of new constituencies or the moving of boundaries, because they are concerned that this would lead to allegations that the changes favoured one party or another. After the summer recess, lawmakers are to scrutinise local legislation that will decide how the five new geographical constituency seats are to be returned - as well as the details of the five new functional constituencies for district councillors. While the focus of discussion is now on the electoral details of the functional constituency seats, long-standing concern over an imbalance in the representativeness of directly elected seats is being revisited. Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat said while his party had yet to come up with a solution, there were vast discrepancies among constituencies in the number of voters a lawmaker represented, an issue he said should be addressed. Under electoral law, the number of seats a constituency gets is linked to the total population projected for the constituency. When the constituencies' boundaries were drawn by the Electoral Affairs Commission in 2007, the population of Hong Kong Island was projected to be 1.26 million at the time of the 2008 Legco elections. The constituency had six seats - roughly equal to one lawmaker per 211,316 people. But New Territories West, which had a projected population of 2.03 million, had only eight seats - or one lawmaker per 253,787 people. According to the Census and Statistics Department, by 2012 Hong Kong will have 7.21 million people. By the end of last year, the population had reached 7.02 million, and there are 3.43 million registered voters. While the number of registered voters fell in traditional middle-class constituencies like Hong Kong Island, New Territories West and East had increases of 23,948 and 24,890 voters respectively, making them the biggest constituencies, with 967,109 and 845,095 voters respectively. If no additional geographical constituencies are to be created, the five new seats will be lumped into the five existing ones, resulting in as many as 10 seats in large constituencies like New Territories West. 'There are many more problems, because someone can be elected with as little as 5 per cent of the total vote,' Lee said. At present, Legco candidates will have their election deposits forfeited if they get less than 3 per cent of the votes cast. In the 2008 election, Albert Chan Wai-yip of the League of Social Democrats secured the last of the eight seats in New Territories West with only 32,182 votes, just 9 per cent of the 400,719 votes cast. In Kowloon West, which had 207,765 voters, Beijing-backed independent Priscilla Leung Mei-fun was returned with only 19,914 votes - making her the lawmaker with the fewest votes among the 30 directly elected members of Legco. Baptist University academic Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, secretary general of the Civic Party, said in order to maintain stability in the electoral system, the less change to constituency boundaries, the less chaos. 'Besides the impact on the voters, any major changes, for example slicing New Territories East in half, could result in suspicions about possible gerrymandering. The government could be in deep trouble,' Chan said. Before the 2008 election, the government considered various options - for example, taking Yung Long district from New Territories West and merging it with New Territories East. All were ruled out because the number of seats in each constituency would have been outside the number allowed by law, or there would be too big a difference in the number of voters each lawmaker represents. However, the amendment of local legislation concerning Legco elections to make way for the five new geographical seats this year will open up the opportunity to redraw the constituency boundaries. Ip Kwok-him of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said his party would study whether it was possible to divide the New Territories into three constituencies. He said voters would have a more focused choice of candidates. 'It is a matter of reasonableness, rather than a political gain. The size of each constituency should be reasonable and cannot be too big,' Ip said. Chinese University academic Ma Ngok said any redrawing of electoral boundaries would result in huge political controversies, because they were bound to affect party interests. 'Compared with overseas countries, the representativeness of each lawmaker in terms of voters represented is not too bad,' Ma said. 'If redrawing the boundaries will bring a disastrous effect to the smaller parties, then the government must think twice before doing anything drastic.' Because the proportional representation electoral system makes it easier for parties with a smaller support base to be elected, both the DAB and the Democratic Party risk being criticised for gerrymandering if they support a major revamp of the existing five-constituency arrangement. A Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau spokesman said the government would consult the Legco constitutional affairs panel on July 19 about the electoral arrangements.