China’s legislature has reaffirmed its proposed election framework for the 2017 chief executive election, dashing any remaining hopes of a compromise.
Zhang Dejiang, standing committee chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC), cited China’s “constitutional responsibilities” in making the announcement at the ongoing session of the Chinese parliament.
Zhang said the Aug. 31, 2014 NPC decision “laid the principles and identified directions” for universal suffrage in 2017, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
The proposal next comes up for a vote in the Legislative Council.
If the proposal is rejected by Legco, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is likely to be reelected, sources in Beijing said.
They said the defeat of the measure would pave the way for a return to the 2012 framework in which Leung was chosen by a small majority of a 1,200-member election committee, they said.
That would give Leung another chance to reintroduce a controversial national security bill mothballed for two years after widespread protests in Hong Kong.
Last week, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam said that if universal suffrage is implemented in 2017, Hong Kong people could elect or reject whoever wins in 2017 for a second term in 2022.
That would be an effective gauge of voter sentiment, she said.
Beijing sources said the chances of the NPC-backed political reform proposal being passed are 50-50.
The Hong Kong government is expected to ramp up lobbying of Democratic Party legislators and independent lawmakers to support the proposal.
A Beijing source said the central government does not have a preferred candidate for 2017, making it easier for Leung to win reelection in any case.
Leung is said to have impressed the central government with his handling of last year’s democracy protests.
Legislator Ip Kwok-him said that if universal suffrage is not implemented, Leung would have an advantage over other candidates.
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