Two key elections will take place within three months of each other from the end of the year — that of the Election Committee and the other for chief executive in March.
The pro-establishment camp has lined up half a dozen chief executive hopefuls but pan-democrats will not field a candidate.
Instead, they have decided to maintain their 200 seats on the Election Committee and play “decisive minority”, hoping to influence the outcome.
However, unless they send their own candidates, the plan is unlikely to work.
The chief executive election was going to be a real competition without any external interference and it was assumed that the pro-establishment contenders would be fighting neck and neck.
In that case, the 200-vote pan-democratic bloc would be a decisive factor.
But we all know that the outcome will be determined by Beijing beforehand, with voting being merely a formality.
In the 2012 election, Leung Chun-ying, the candidate favored by Beijing, took 689 Election Committee votes.
Henry Tang could have received no more than 511 votes even if all the votes of the pan-democrats had gone to him.
(Editor’s note: Only 1,132 Election Committee members voted, with Tang getting just 285 votes).
Beijing will make sure its favored candidate gets at least 601 votes needed to win under the Basic Law.
The pan-democrats’ notion that they can use their 200 votes on the Election Committee to influence the outcome is wishful thinking.
Given the acrimonious contest in 2012, Beijing is unlikely to allow genuine competition between pro-establishment candidates.
It is expected to use the same arrangement as that in the first election in 1996 in which it will get one or two pro-establishment candidates to run against its pre-determined winner (Tung Chee-hwa won in 1996) to create a semblance of competition and credibility.
Legco President Jasper Tsang and former lawmaker Ronny Tong would be an ideal choice for such a “supporting role”.
If the pan-democrats send someone to run, they can at least get some of the spotlight rather than being completely out of the picture.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 19
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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