Date
25 May 2017
A 50 percent surge in voter registration among first-time voters and young people shows they are keen to influence the results of the upcoming Legco elections .Photo: HKEJ
A 50 percent surge in voter registration among first-time voters and young people shows they are keen to influence the results of the upcoming Legco elections .Photo: HKEJ

How young people will shape the Legco elections

If the recent voter registration is anything to go by, people born between 1960 and 1980 will dictate the results of the Legislative Council elections in September.

And when public sentiment is factored in, we would be seeing opposition lawmakers in greater numbers in Legco.

In theory, this election is a contest to reshape the chamber before Hong Kong’s next leader is chosen next year.

But in reality, it’s a referendum on Leung Chun-ying and his deeply unpopular policies.

This is where voter demographic comes in.

Voters born between 1956 and 1998 account for 71 percent of the electorate, about a third of whom are young people or first-time voters. 

The latter is the most disaffected with Leung’s government. Their older peers are no less dissatisfied, potentially making these two age groups a potent force for the opposition.

Those older than 60 make up a small minority and are likely to go either way.    

Which is why candidates and their parties are drawing up strategies with these factors in mind.

They will be looking back on the district council elections in November, in which pro-establishment candidates won the lion’s share of seats, for signs of the way forward.

Also, they will be keen to know how Edward Leung of the radical localist group Hong Kong Indigenous managed to shake up New Territories East by winning 15 percent of the vote in a by-election.

There are about 3.77 million registered voters for geographical constituencies, up from 3.47 million in 2012.

About 3.47 million are registered in the district council (second) functional constituency, which elects five lawmakers.

Traditional functional constituencies have 239,000 registered electors.

A 50 percent surge in voter registration among first-time voters and young people shows they are keen to influence the results.

And with their sentiment driven by disenchantment with this government, they are likely to reject pro-establishment candidates.

Still, we can’t conclude that opposition forces will simply sweep their way to victory.

The pro-establishment camp dominates the functional constituencies and are lining up a strong challenge in the geographical contests.

For instance, James Tien’s Liberal Party, the most outspoken of the pro-Beijing groups, is courting the so-called silent majority of older voters and young electors alike.

The party could put Dominic Lee on top of the list, with Tien taking the second spot, to attract younger voters.

Chung Shu-kun of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) is taking to social media to woo young voters after losing his district council seat in November.

He is seen tempering his pro-Beijing fervor with a more localist stance.

DAB will field one slate compared with two in the 2012 election. The decision was made after the number of seats in Hong Kong Island was cut to six from seven.

There are close to a dozen potential candidates for the Hong Kong Island constituency including Regina Ip of the New People’s Party, businessman Ricky Wong, Tanya Chan of the Civic Party, Baggio Leung of localist group Youngspiration and Cyd Ho of the Labour Party.

All this makes the upcoming elections one of the most competitive in history.

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SC/AC/RA

EJ Insight writer

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