Two-front battle: traditional pan-democrats face off against pro-establisment camp and radicals
September’s Legislative Council elections are set to see a number of newcomers emerge
Traditional pan-democratic parties are set to face a two-front war in the Legislative Council election in September, as newly-formed pro-democracy groups and radicals form alliances to contest seats, while the Beijing-loyalist camp also seeks to maintain its influence in the legislature.
Currently, the pan-democratic camp occupies 27 seats in Legco, while the pro-establishment camp controls the remaining 43. The Democratic Party and Civic Party, with six lawmakers each, are the most influential groups in the pan-democrat bloc.
The Democrats confirmed on Sunday that they would seek to win at least eight seats in September, including one for the wholesale and retail sector, a seat in each of the five geographical constituencies and two of the five “super seats” to be elected by more than three million voters citywide.
Three Democrat lawmakers – Helena Wong Pik-wan, Wu Chi-wai and James To Kun-sun – will seek re-election, while Roy Kwong Chun-yu, Ted Hui Chi-fung and Lam Cheuk-ting will contest seats vacated by outgoing Democrats. Andrew Wan Siu-kin will run in New Territories West to reclaim a seat the party lost four years ago.
But all of them will be facing fierce competition. Apart from Kwong, the contestants for “super seats” include pan-democrat lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung, who has represented New Territories West since 1998.
On Hong Kong Island, Hui faces a tough challenge from Civic Party vice-chairwoman Tanya Chan, who has announced her bid to win back the seat she lost in 2012.
In three other geographical constituencies, Wong , Wan and Wu will go head to head with localists Yau Wai-ching and Kenny Wong Chun-kit from Youngspiration and Kowloon East Community Concern Group’s Chan Chak-to respectively.
The trio formed an alliance in April, and in an election rally on Sunday afternoon suggested that young people could no longer count on traditional parties in fighting for the city’s autonomy from the mainland.
“The Communist Party is holding us at gunpoint in Hong Kong, our home ... We can no longer rely on our representatives [in Legco], we must stand up for ourselves,” Yau said.
She was narrowly defeated by pro-establishment lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun in the district council polls last year. This time Yau will once again challenge Leung, who announced her bid for a third term on Sunday, in Kowloon West.
Meanwhile, Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, who will contest in New Territories East in second place on a list headed by executive director Lam Cheuk-ting, spoke of the keen competition among pan-democrats in the coming elections.
“It will be a very difficult battle for our party. In some constituencies, there could be more than 20 tickets, but a voter can only can cast one vote. I have asked our contestants to do their best and explain our principles to voters. I believe we have a good track record and believe voters will support us. But there is no 100 per cent guarantee. I have asked my colleagues to work very hard,” she said.
Incumbent lawmaker Helena Wong, who will run again in Kowloon West, said of calls for Hong Kong independence or self-determination by some localist groups: “We the Democratic Party support the Basic Law and hope Hong Kong people can have a high degree of autonomy as promised under the Basic Law. We do not support Hong Kong getting independent or returning to British rule because these are not in line with the Basic Law.”
Earlier, five pro-independence localists led by radical lawmaker Wong Yuk-man and Civic Passion leader Wong Yeung-tat formed an alliance in a bid to win a seat in each of the five geographical constituencies. The five expressed distrust in traditional pan-democratic parties.