05/02/2022, 14.06
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Young people in Hong Kong don’t like ‘patriotic’ voting

A pro-Beijing Election Committee is set to pick Hong Kong’s new chief executive next week. This is one of the reasons first-time voters have stayed away from last December’s parliamentary election when only seven per cent of eligible voters aged 18 to 30 cast their ballot.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Young people in Hong Kong don’t like “patriotic” elections, this according to a report by the Hong Kong Free Press, based on electoral turnouts following the last election to the city’s parliament, the Legislative Council (LegCo), on 19 December 2021.

The study comes on the eve of the vote to choose Hong Kong’s new chief executive. Next Sunday, 8 May, Beijing’s pick, John Lee, hitherto number two to outgoing leader Carrie Lam, is set to replace her. He is the only candidate.

The head of the city’s administration will be chosen on the basis of rules that fall far short of any democratic standard.

An Election Committee made up of 1,462 members, ostensibly representative of Hong Kong’s seven million people, will decide. In reality, most of its members are aligned with mainland China and its ruling Communist Party.

In March 2021, China adopted a law that allows only "patriots" to administer Hong Kong, a way to exclude pro-democracy candidates from running for office.

This was Beijing's second strike against the 2019 pro-democracy protest movement after it imposed a draconian national security law in June 2020, which saw the city's main pro-democracy leaders jailed, exiled or forced to drop out of active politics.

In the last LegCo election, only 30.2 per cent of voters cast their ballot, the worst turnout since 1995, when the city, then still under British rule, held its first parliamentary election.

In the 2016 LegCo election, 58.3 per cent of eligible voters took part.

In November 2019, following that year’s anti-government protests, turnout reached 71 per cent in district council elections, which pro-democracy candidates won overwhelmingly.

According to the Hong Kong Free Press, in last December’s election, out of 1.3 million voters, only 6,269 were first-time voters.

In the 18 to 20 age group, only 6.69 per cent of those eligible to vote cast their ballot, against almost 60 per cent in 2016. If the 18 to 30 age group is considered, the turnout was not much better, just above 7 per cent.

The highest turnout was reported among voters aged 66 to 70 (48.5 per cent) and 71 and older (45.6 per cent).

In the end, most Hong Kong voters, especially the young, chose to snub or boycott an election that did not meet the minimum standards of political pluralism.

For her part, outgoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam dismissed the slap in the face saying that the turnout is not important in an election.

Instead, a low turnout meant that the government was doing a good job and that voters could not be bothered to come to vote to choose new lawmakers to control its work.

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