Hong Kong, Carrie Lam announces December 19th vote for Parliamentary renewal

Legco elections originally due September 2020. The executive cancelled them over pandemic: a move to avoid the Democrats victory and launch an electoral reform that rewards pro-Beijing forces. Whoever calls for a boycott of the vote will be punished. Public voter records deleted.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The elections for the city parliament will take place on December 19, more than a year after its postponement and the consequent extension of the mandate of legislators in office.

The decision was announced yesterday by Carrie Lam, head of the local executive who added that her successor will be chosen on March 27, 2022.

The renewal of the Legco was originally scheduled for September 2020. The authorities officially postponed it to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. According to independent observers and opposition forces, the move was dictated by the pro-Beijing wing’s fears of losing a majority to the Democrats. The establishment camp and the central government also needed time to launch an electoral reform that could reward “patriotic” candidates, in short those loyal to the Chinese Communist Party.

The Legco, which is boycotted by democratic deputies, today started the process to amend the Basic Law (the city constitution) and thus implement the decisions on the electoral reform recently approved by the National People's Congress (NPC).

The Parliament of the former British colony ranges between 70 to 90 members; those elected by universal suffrage - usually dominated by democrat formations - are reduced from 35 to 20. Another 30 parliamentarians will be chosen indirectly from among the representatives of the professions and interest groups, largely loyal to the establishment.

 The pro-Beijing Electoral Committee which chooses the chief executive will also appoint the remaining 40 legislators. With the addition of 300 delegates from the PA, 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.

The district councillors, who for the most part serve on the Democratic front, are excluded from the committee, which will be appointed on September 19. A new body led by the head of the executive will examine the candidates for elective positions.

Lam pointed out that while voters are free to vote blank, those who incite others to do so are committing a crime. Citizens will then no longer be allowed to access voter registers, a custom that served to reduce the risk of fraud.