DAB fares best, taking 13 seats, thanks for vote-splitting tactic

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 2:04pm

The Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong was the biggest winner in the election, clinching 13 seats.

Its success in the five geographical constituencies, where it won nine seats, was a result of its strong district network and strategy of spreading votes among its candidates, party chairman Tam Yiu-chung said.

The DAB had its rivals to thank for that vote-allocation strategy, he said. "We learned the tactic from our rivals in the results of the 2008 election," Tam said.

The party captured nine out of 35 directly elected seats, a gain of two seats from the last legislature. All the nine slates it ran in the five geographical constituencies won seats.

Chinese University political scientist Ma Ngok said the victory of the Beijing-loyalist camp did not mean it enjoyed greater public support than the pan-democrats - it was rather the result of a better strategy in splitting votes. Indeed, the camp's share of the vote was only 42.3 per cent.

"On Hong Kong Island, the votes were allocated so precisely that the party's two candidates, Jasper Tsang Yok-sing and Christopher Chung Shu-kun, clinched 36,517 and 33,901 votes respectively. It guaranteed the election of both candidates."

Vote splitting involves a party dividing its votes among different slates in the hope that more candidates will be elected. It is the first time the DAB encouraged its supporters to split their votes.

Tam pointed to the success the pan-democrats enjoyed by using the tactic in the 2008 poll, when they won five out of eight seats in New Territories West.

Beijing loyalists regained the majority in that constituency by capturing five of the nine seats - of which three went to the DAB. "A lot of our ballots were wasted the last time, when we presented only one slate in the district," Tam said. "This year, we decided to split into three slates and all of them won."

He said the leading candidates from the three slates employed focused canvassing - Tam, Chan Han-pan and Leung Che-cheung divided their campaigning between Tseun Wan, Yuen Long and Tuen Mun respectively.

The other main Beijing-loyalist group, the Federation of Trade Unions won six seats, an increase from four in 2008. Six of its seven teams secured Legco seats.

FTU honorary president Cheng Yiu-tong said its strategy of getting political star Chan Yuen-han to campaign for fellow party candidates was successful.

Cheng also said he was against a move by some DAB members to tell people not to back FTU candidates by claiming they already had enough votes. It would not damage their relationship with the DAB, he added. "What's done is done. All we can do is to tell them not to do it again. The DAB is still our friend."

Tam said he had contacted the FTU to explain. "It was just an isolated incident, and we will put it behind us after the election. We have always been on good terms with the FTU and can still co-operate in Legco."

Polytechnic University assistant professor Chung Kim-wah said the poll this year had deepened the rift between the two Beijing-loyalist groups. He noted that Chan had condemned her DAB rivals earlier for spreading rumours about her, and she had vowed not to split votes with DAB hopefuls any more.

"The FTU has about 400,000 members and it is well known that they would not be content with merely helping the DAB in elections. They will continue to expand their political influence."