Date
18 November 2017
Many factors contributed to a surge in public support for the democracy protest, including the involvement of young people, according to an academic. Photo: HKEJ
Many factors contributed to a surge in public support for the democracy protest, including the involvement of young people, according to an academic. Photo: HKEJ

Tide turns in protesters’ favor for the first time

For the first time, more people support the democracy protest movement than oppose it, according to a survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

In a sample of 802 respondents, 37.8 percent expressed their solidarity with the movement, up sharply from 31.1 percent in a previous survey.

That compares with 35.5 percent who said they oppose the democracy protest, down from 46.3.

The poll was conducted by the CUHK Center for Communication and Public Opinion Survey from Oct. 8 to 15.

It was the first time public opinion had turned in favor of the protesters since their occupation of major Hong Kong roads began on Sept. 28.

More than half of the respondents said police use of tear gas on protesters during the early hours of the demonstrations was improper against 22.1 percent who said it was not.     

Francis Lee, a professor in the CUHK School of Journalism and Communication, said the public is now better able to understand the movement because it is no longer an abstract idea unlike when people were merely talking about it.

He said the increase in the number of supporters could be due to several factors including the movement’s unexpected scale, the involvement of young people and controversial police tactics.

However, the survey also showed that more people are willing to adopt a “take it first” attitude toward Beijing’s electoral reform proposal. 

About 36.1 percent of the interviewees said the Legislative Council should approve the proposal even if it screens out candidates not acceptable to Beijing, up from 29.3 percent a month ago.

Those who want lawmakers to veto the proposal fell to 48.5 percent from 53.7 percent.

Paul Lee Siu-nam, another CUHK journalism professor, said he hopes the survey will help bridge the gap between the opposite sides in the election reform debate.

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