Date
23 January 2018
Based on the experience of the past elections since the handover, some in the pro-establishment said, a high voter turnout would always work in the pan-democrats’ favor. Photo: Bloomberg
Based on the experience of the past elections since the handover, some in the pro-establishment said, a high voter turnout would always work in the pan-democrats’ favor. Photo: Bloomberg

Low voter turnout can save pro-Beijing camp in by-elections

With the Legislative Council by-elections less than three months away, the pan-democrats have vowed to take all four seats in the geographical constituencies of New Territories East, Kowloon West and Hong Kong Island, as well as the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency.

But according to its internal assessment, the pro-establishment camp stands a good chance of winning in the Hong Kong Island election.

First, let’s look at the New Territories East and Kowloon West races. The pan-democrats have yet to decide on their candidates as they are awaiting the results of primaries. On the other hand, Bill Tang Ka-piu representing the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and Vincent Cheng Wing-shun from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong have already launched their respective campaigns months ago.

However, the pro-Beijing camp is far from optimistic about its odds of winning the two seats. That’s because the two constituencies, particularly New Territories East, have long been pan-democratic strongholds. Also, the pan-democrats have an advantage under the “single-seat-single-vote” system. In fact, some people in the pro-Beijing camp have estimated that their candidates can only snap up 34 percent of the total votes at best.

Hong Kong Island is not a done deal for the democrats. Agnes Chow Ting, representing Demosistō, doesn’t seem to be as popular on the internet as expected, except among young voters.

That said, it is estimated that the pro-establishment candidate who is going to run against her, Judy Chan Ka-pui of the New People’s Party, may be able to take 44 percent of the votes and thereby put up a decent fight if she manages to tap into the solid support base of her party’s chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee.

At the end of the day, according to an analysis by some in the pro-establishment camp, voter turnout and coordination ability across political parties would be the most decisive factors affecting the final outcome.

Based on the experience of past elections since the handover, they said, a high voter turnout would always work in the pan-democrats’ favor.

Given that, all that the pro-Beijing camp can do is hope for a low turnout in the upcoming by-elections, and if that happens, they just might be able to pull off some major upsets.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 22

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

JC/CG

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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