The NPC approves the 'patriotic' electoral reform for Hong Kong

Reduction in the number of deputies elected by direct suffrage. Most MPs will be chosen by the pro-establishment Electoral Committee. Pre-emptive police check on would-be candidates. Carrie Lam: Democrats can be elected, but only if they are "patriots".

Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) today approved the electoral reform for the former British colony.

With 167 votes in favour and none against, the delegates gave the green light to the proposal formulated on March 11 by the annual session of the NPC, modifying parts of the Basic Law (the city's mini-Constitution).

The Chinese central government wants to ensure the election of "patriotic" candidates. According to most independent observers, the term is a euphemism for would-be MPs who do not belong to the democratic camp and are openly pro-Beijing.

Although the reform provides for an expansion the Legco (the local Parliament) from 70 to 90 members, it establishes the reduction of directly elected deputies from 35 to 20, usually the prerogative of democracy groups. Another 30 parliamentarians will be chosen indirectly from among the representatives of the industrial sector, the trade union sector and the professions, dominated by members of the establishment.

The pro-Beijing Electoral Committee that appoints the chief executive of the city will appoint the remaining 40 lawmakers. With the addition of 300 delegates from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and groups that "love Hong Kong and China), the body will grow from 1,200 to 1,500 members.

District councillors, who for the most part serve on the Democratic front, are excluded from the Committee. In addition to choosing the majority of parliamentarians, the Committee will have the last word on the "legitimacy" of the candidacies.

Carrie Lam, head of the city executive, said that with the reform anyone can be elected to the Legco, even a democratic candidate, the important thing is that he is a patriot. In order to participate in elections, aspiring deputies must demonstrate that they are loyal to the authorities, the Basic Law, and comply with the National Security Act.

In short, the distinction made by Lam eliminates democratic personalities and citizens who have supported the anti-government protests that have erupted in recent years. In order to run in the elections, a Hong Kong resident must first pass the scrutiny of the police and the Committee for the Protection of National Security (chaired by the chief executive); a commission still to be set up will then have to decide whether to pass the candidacy to the control of the Electoral Committee, which will have the last word. The reform does not provide for any judicial appeal to contest exclusion from the election campaign.