23 May 2019
Agnes Chow (standing), a member of the standing committee of Demosistō, has already launched her campaign for the Hong Kong Island seat. Photo: HKEJ
Agnes Chow (standing), a member of the standing committee of Demosistō, has already launched her campaign for the Hong Kong Island seat. Photo: HKEJ

Why Demosistō could be fighting an uphill battle in by-elections

The pan-democrats won’t decide on their final list of candidates for the Legco by-elections in the geographical constituencies of Kowloon West and New Territories East until after their primaries scheduled for mid-January.

But Agnes Chow Ting, a member of the party’s standing committee who is running for the Hong Kong Island seat, has already launched her campaign, and it is now in full swing.

According to sources, Chow paid a visit to the Democratic Party’s central committee last week, during which veteran members of the party including founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming confirmed their endorsement of her candidacy, and promised to campaign for her and help her appeal to a wider demographic.

As some members of the Democratic Party put it, given their party’s fairly good relations with the Demosistō, and the fact that the Hong Kong Island seat belonged to Demosistō originally, the Democratic Party would root for Chow even if she hadn’t worked hard to seek their support.

However, some seasoned pan-democrats point out that Chow could still find herself fighting an uphill battle in running against her pro-establishment opponent Judy Chan Ka-pui of the New People’s Party.

They note that while Judy Chan is an incumbent member of the District Council, Chow is almost a complete rookie in politics. And whether Chow could gain the support of middle-aged and elderly voters remains a big question mark.

They cite the 2007 Legco by-election on Hong Kong Island as an example. In that contest, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang took about 175,000 votes and defeated Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee by a margin of about 35,000 votes.

Anson Chan won with the support of the entire pro-democracy camp. Given that Chow isn’t even close to Anson Chan in terms of popularity, those seasoned pan-democrats believe her odds of winning could be the lowest among the three geographical constituencies.

They also note that in the 2016 Legco election, the ratio of votes between the pan-democrats and the pro-establishment camp stood at around 50:40 percent, while the remaining 10 percent of the votes went to “centrist” candidates like Hong Kong Television Network co-founder and chairman Ricky Wong Wai-kay.

As such, they believe the degree to which Chow is able to tap into centrist and moderate voters would be a decisive factor in determining the final outcome of the race.

Meanwhile, as far as Kowloon West is concerned, it is widely projected that Dr. Edward Yiu Chung-yim is going to prevail in the primary and secure his candidacy. The problem is, some are concerned that he might get disqualified again over the “confirmation form”, which candidates must sign to confirm their acceptance of the Basic Law provision that Hong Kong is part of China.

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

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]


Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe