Date
17 January 2017
Agnes Chow and Joshua Wong (center) are the face of Demosisto, a nascent political party hived off from a student activist group. Photo: Straits Times
Agnes Chow and Joshua Wong (center) are the face of Demosisto, a nascent political party hived off from a student activist group. Photo: Straits Times

Why the days of old-school pan-democrats are numbered

The start of the nomination period for the Legislative Council election is just around the corner.

Although voting will not take place until September, we can almost predict with some certainty that a lot of young, new faces will win, ending the 20-year domination of washed-up, old-school pan-democrats in the legislature.

Hong Kong people are so fed up with these politicians they can’t wait to throw them out.

Frustrated and disillusioned, many voters think it’s about time do-nothing lawmakers were replaced with no-nonsense activists.

These politicians themselves know their prospects are anything but promising, which is why their election strategy is defensive.

The Democratic Party and the Civic Party are each fielding one candidate to each of the five geographic constituencies to ensure there is no cannibalistic competition for votes.

Their leaders know that keeping the status quo is already a daunting task, so they are lowering their expectations for a net gain in the chamber.

If the newcomers such as Demosistō, Hong Kong Indigenous and Youngspiration can coordinate their campaigns, they could win at least eight seats.

That would make a drastic overhaul in Legco’s pro-democracy camp inevitable.

While the pan-democrats are in retreat, the scandal-plagued pro-establishment camp is not much better off.

That said, there is no guarantee the so-called “paratroopers” and indigenous forces will simply waltz their way to victory.

These fledgling parties are ridden with problems such as disunity and infighting.

Some of their leaders seem to be more interested in smear tactics than in a proper election strategy.

Their slanderous comments are reminiscent of the ugly war of words between communist-loathing pro-democracy supporters 30 years ago.

Smear campaigns are not only self-destructive but also insulting to voters.

Do these young politicians really believe that they can win votes merely by playing up the fear factor?

Obviously, they have a long way to go before they come of age. When the day comes, old-school politicians will still be around.

But to be sure, no matter how many seats they win, these young politicians will make history.

They will usher in a new era for the democratic movement.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 5

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RA

HKEJ columnist

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