26 March 2019
John Tsang (L) has seen his lead over Carrie Lam narrow significantly when it comes to people's choice for Hong Kong's next leader. Photos: Xinhua, HKEJ
John Tsang (L) has seen his lead over Carrie Lam narrow significantly when it comes to people's choice for Hong Kong's next leader. Photos: Xinhua, HKEJ

John Tsang still the most popular CE choice but Lam catching up

John Tsang continues to be the top choice of Hongkongers in the chief executive race, but the former financial secretary has seen his lead over key rival Carrie Lam shrink significantly, a new survey shows.

According to a poll conducted by the Center for Communication and Public Opinion Survey of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), 33.5 percent of respondents said they want Tsang as Hong Kong’s next chief executive, while 30.9 percent said they back former chief secretary Lam.

It marks a huge narrowing of the gap between the main contenders, as a previous survey last month showed the support levels of Tsang and Lam at 32.6 percent and 23.9 percent respectively.

The survey, the third of its kind commissioned by the Hong Kong Economic Journal, showed that retired judge Woo Kwok-hing — another candidate for the city’s top job — has seen his support rate drop to 8.1 percent from 11.4 percent. 

Meanwhile, former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang and Regina Ip, leader of the pro-Beijing New People’s Party, were backed by 7.2 percent and 6.4 percent of the respondents respectively. 

For the survey, CUHK researchers interviewed 1,036 people between Jan. 18 and 24.

John Tsang and Lam have both seen their support rise since they announced their candidacy last week and they are extending lead over other candidates, but clearly Lam has become a much bigger threat for Tsang in the race for Hong Kong’s top post.

Asked who is likely to be the final winner in the CE election that will be held in March, 63.5 percent of the respondents chose Lam, significantly up from 28.8 percent in the previous survey.

The corresponding figure for Tsang was only 17.4 percent, down significantly from 31.6 percent.

As for Jasper Tsang, Ip and Woo, less than 5 percent of the respondents expressed optimism about their prospects.

Francis Lee, a professor at CUHK’s School of Journalism and Communication, attributed the rise in Lam’s perceived chances of victory to support campaigns by the pro-Beijing camp and impression created by media that she is bound to win, rather than a surge in her personal popularity.

However, Lam’s advantage in this regard could fade, said Lee, who believes public opinions may change after the Election Committee vote for the final candidates next month.

The survey found that one in seven of the respondents who claimed to be in the pro-democracy camp support John Tsang while nearly 80 percent of those from the pro-establishment camp supported Lam.

Among young respondents aged between 18 and 29, Tsang beat Lam by 75.1 percent to 16 percent, but over half of those aged 60 or above supported Lam.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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