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A woman walks past a protest zone in Mong Kok, in front a partial road sign that reads "stop". Support for the protest movement is falling, according to a poll. Photo: Sam Tsang

More than two-thirds say Occupiers should go home now as support wanes: poll

Survey highlights that younger and more educated people tend to back the protest - but for the first time supporters are in the minority

A poll continues to show a generation and education gap in people's opinions towards the Occupy movement.

Younger or more educated respondents tend to support the pro-democracy movement more, a finding consistent with the survey's results for the previous two months.

Despite the divided opinions between people of different ages, education levels and political beliefs, the poll shows that almost 70 per cent of respondents believed the protesters should leave now. And for the first time since the survey began in September, the percentage of those who did not support the movement surpassed that of supporters.

"There is a generation gap," said Paul Lee Siu-nam, a journalism professor at the Chinese University and one of the researchers. "This gap not only exists during the Occupy movement; we have seen such division on various other social issues."

From November 5 to 11, researchers from the Chinese University's Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey interviewed 1,030 Hong Kong citizens aged 15 or older and able to speak Cantonese via telephone.

Some questions - such as if the Occupy protesters should go home - were not asked in the poll in September and October.

More than 43 per cent of respondents said they did not support the Occupy movement - last month the figure was about 35 per cent. The percentage of respondents supporting the movement was now 34 per cent.

In a more detailed breakdown, more than 67 per cent of those aged 15 to 24 said they supported the movement. Among those aged 40 or more, support stood at 27 per cent. Almost 46 per cent of those with a tertiary education supported the movement, dropping to 21 per cent among respondents with a junior secondary or lower education. Although more than 67 per cent of respondents believed the protesters should go home - 14 per cent believed the opposite - researchers pointed out that more than half of respondents believed the government needed to give more detailed concessions to resolve the current stand-off.

"Both sides need to consider how they can respond to the people's opinions," said Francis Lee Lap-fung, who is also a Chinese University journalism professor and one of the researchers.

Again, opinions divide along generational lines over this question, with up to 83 per cent of those aged 40 and older believing protesters should leave but only 21 per cent of those aged 15 to 24 thinking the same. A similar division is observed among people with different education levels.

Researchers said the decline in support for the movement could be related to the inconvenience the long-lasting occupation had caused to ordinary people.

Yvonne Leung Lai-kwok, one of the Occupy student leaders, said opinions were constantly changing so it would not be the only criteria for protesters to decide if they would end the occupation. She believed opinions would turn in favour of the protest in the wake of the ban on student leaders visiting Beijing.

The survey also found that more than 45 per cent of respondents believed lawmakers should pass the political reform package if the government scrapped corporate voting in the formation of the nominating committee. Thirty-six per cent were in favour of passing the package even if the government did nothing.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: The Occupy generation gap