Regina Ip, leader of the pro-Beijing New People’s Party, dropped out of the race for chief executive, ending a 77-day campaign, after failing to secure the required number of nominations.
Ip did not disclose the number of nominations she received from the Election Committee but said it was well below the threshold of 150 votes, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
About 270 committee members abstained including Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing.
This was the second time Ip saw her chance of being elected chief executive slip away. In 2012, she also failed to be nominated.
Ip blamed the result on the electoral system which she said did not have enough votes for four people to run.
She said four committee members who she believed would have nominated her changed their minds at the last minute. Their votes went to former chief secretary Carrie Lam, Ip said.
Lam went on to top the nominating contest with 580 votes.
IP praised her campaign team for putting up a good fight in a “very tough environment”.
Asked by the media if the reason she got few nominations was an intentional block on her by Beijing’s Liaison Office, Ip refused comment, saying only that she will continue to serve Hong Kong.
Ip said she and top officials in the Liaison Office “used to be friends”, and how their relations will evolve in the wake of the campaign would depend on the “big picture”.
The stage is set for the March 26 election with Lam, former financial secretary John Tsang and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing contesting Hong Kong’s top job.
Tsang qualified for the election with 165 nominations while Woo had 180.
Ip said all three have contacted her and sought support from her party. They were told to present their respective platforms in more detail, especially how they plan to heal the divisions in society.
Ip urged the trio not to follow in the incumbent government’s footsteps.
Ivan Choy, a senior lecturer in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Ip was right to say that the election system is defective but the biggest problem lies not in insufficient votes for four candidates but in the fact that its design makes the committee members easily manipulated.
Choy said the Liaison Office must have played an important role in helping Lam secure nomination running away.
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