Date
18 January 2017
Past experience tells us that first-time voters tend to vote for pro-democracy candidates. Still, voter turnout is critical. Photo: AFP
Past experience tells us that first-time voters tend to vote for pro-democracy candidates. Still, voter turnout is critical. Photo: AFP

High turnout rate key for non-establishment candidates

Several factors will determine whether non-establishment candidates will prevail in the Legco elections on Sunday.

These are whether there will be enough pro-democracy voters who will take part in strategic voting, whether votes will go to less popular candidates and whether they will win a higher proportion of the vote than their pro-establishment rivals.

Another decisive factor is the turnout rate.

Results in previous elections have shown that a high voter turnout often works in the pan-democrats’ favor.

In the last Legco election, the turnout rate was 53.05 percent. Pro-democracy candidates won by a 57 percent to 43 percent vote margin.

If the turnout rate this Sunday hits 60 percent, the result is likely to be 60 percent to 40 percent for the pro-democracy camp.

A higher percentage of votes means candidates stand a better chance of getting elected under the party-list proportional representation system.

On the other hand, past experience shows us that first-time voters tend to vote for pro-democracy candidates.

The pro-democracy camp could boost their odds by mobilizing first-time voters.

The question is will voters turn out on Sunday in any significant numbers?

Chances are they will, because whenever there is a mass political movement in Hong Kong, the turnout rate is always high in elections that follow.

It was so in the Legco election after the July 1 protest in 2003, so it’s logical to infer that the election on Sunday will see a high voter turnout.

This is the first Legco election after the 2014 Occupy Central movement.

Again, based on past experience, we can tell whether there will be a high voter turnout by looking at the turnout rate in the first five hours of voting.

The turnout rate often climbs at five-hour intervals.

To put it more precisely, if the turnout rate hits 17 to 18 percent by 12:30 p.m., we are likely to see a high voter turnout on that day.

If that happens, I would suggest pro-democracy voters adopt a more aggressive voting strategy for the rest of the day.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 27

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RA

Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong

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