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Monday, December 12, 2016, 01:40

Turnout hits historical high in Election Committee vote

By Luis Liu
Turnout hits historical high in Election Committee vote
Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) Chairman Barnabas Fung Wah (first from left) empties a ballot box with EAC staff at the counting station of the Election Committee at Asia-World Expo on Monday. As of 9:30 pm on Sunday, the turnout stood at a record high of 42.38 percent, well surpassing the 27.5-percent turnout in December 2011, the last time a committee election was held in the special administrative region. (P arker Z heng / C hina D aily)

Hong Kong saw a significant increase in voter turnout on Sunday in the election of the 1,200-member Election Committee (EC) responsible for choosing the next Chief Executive.

As of 9:30 pm, the turnout stood at a record high of 42.38 percent, well surpassing the 27.5-percent turnout in December 2011, the last time a committee election was held in the special administrative region. The new Chief Executive will be elected in March, and will assume office about three months later.

As of 9:30 pm on Sunday, the turnout stood at a record high of 42.38 percent, well surpassing the 27.5-percent turnout in December 2011

More than 230,000 registered voters were eligible to cast their votes at more than 110 polling stations citywide between 7:30 am and 10:30 pm on Sunday. Vote counting started at midnight on Monday and will be completed within the day.

District councils in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon — which was one of the 25 contested subsectors on Sunday — appeared to have the highest turnout, with 92.79 percent of registered voters.

The Hong Kong Basic Law, the city’s governing document, stipulates that the Chief Executive should be elected through a broadly representative EC, followed by appointment by the central government.

Committee members come from four main sectors, comprising 38 subsectors representing various trades, professions, labor and social welfare groups, as well as district organizations. They serve a five-year term.

On Sunday, 1,239 candidates from the 25 subsectors competed for 733 open seats on the committee, the Electoral Affairs Commission of Hong Kong said earlier.

A total of 461 seats had already been automatically filled this year, including those that were uncontested and those for ex-officio committee members, such as local legislators and Hong Kong deputies to the National People’s Congress.

The remaining six seats are either null or vacated for various reasons. Two legislators-elect were disqualified by a court last month for declining to properly take their required oaths of office, thereby violating the Basic Law. The two also lost their seats on the committee.

Three other lawmakers are also Hong Kong deputies to the NPC at the same time.

The Electoral Affairs Commission had also earlier invalidated the nomination of one of the 18 candidates for the Import and Export subsector, which is entitled to 18 seats. The remaining 17 candidates in the subsector were returned unopposed, leaving one vacancy. There’s no legal requirement to arrange another election to fill that vacancy.

Potential Chief Executive candidates normally announce their bids after a new EC is formed. On Friday, the city’s incumbent, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, announced he would not seek re-election, citing family reasons.

The winning Chief Executive candidate has to obtain at least 600 votes, a majority of the total cast by the committee.

luisliu@chinadailyhk.com
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