Hong Kong Democratic Reforms: Moving Forward, or Status Quo

Steve Barclayby Steve Barclay

Dear friends of Hong Kong,

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has just launched the second stage of consultation to consult Hong Kong citizens about the electoral arrangements to implement “one-person, one vote” for the Chief Executive (CE) election in 2017.

It forms part of “Step 3” of a “Five-step process” of constitutional development to bring us closer to the goal of selecting the CE by universal suffrage.

The current consultation aims to seek views on mainly four areas, namely:

  1. The procedures for the Nominating Committee (NC) to nominate CE candidates;
  2. The composition and formation method of the NC;
  3. Voting arrangements for selecting the CE by universal suffrage; and
  4. Other related issues for the selection of the CE by universal suffrage.

The HKSAR Government has sought to make the proposed nomination process as fair and transparent as possible, with an appropriate platform for persons seeking nomination to explain their manifestoes to the NC and the public. Such arrangements are intended to promote a competitive atmosphere and active involvement by the public from the nomination stage to the universal suffrage stage of the election. In the first stage of nomination, there is also a proposal to resemble a primary with a lower threshold for entry. It aims to broaden the field of contenders across the political spectrum.

After the end of the public consultation on 7 March, the Government will compile and consider the views expressed and submit a resolution to the 70-member Legislative Council in the second quarter of this year.

If Hong Kong`s legislators pass the resolution (by a two-thirds majority), all five million eligible voters in Hong Kong will for the first time be able to directly elect our CE via “one person, one vote” in 2017.

On the other hand, if the legislature rejects the resolution, Hong Kong voters will remain stuck with the status quo (i.e. the next CE in 2017 will continue to be selected by an electoral college of just 1,200 people). It will also eliminate the chance of forming all the Legislative Council by universal suffrage in 2020 as universal suffrage for the CE must precede that for our legislature.

“One person, one vote” will have a profound impact on Hong Kong’s political culture. Once in place, there will inevitably be further subsequent improvements and refinements to the electoral system. We hope that Hong Kong people and Hong Kong`s legislature grasp this historical opportunity.

Details of the above proposals and the consultation document can be viewed at the link: www.2017.gov.hk/en/home/index.html. If you have any questions, please contact us by emailing: hketony@hketony.gov.hk.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Barclay
Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, New York

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