Hong Kong people are called on Sunday, December 19, to vote for their Parliament, the Legislative Council (Legco), which will for the first time be made up exclusively of “patriots”, in the sense understood by the Chinese Communist Party. The others, that is to say almost all of the opposition candidates who had planned to stand for election, are currently behind bars, on bail, or in exile. And only three of the 150 or so candidates vying for the 90 seats declared themselves to be “pro-democratic”.
Ten thousand police officers, or nearly a third of the force, will be deployed to ensure that the vote goes off without a hitch. The precaution may seem exaggerated given the general disinterest of Hong Kongers in these elections, which they are likely to shun en masse, despite the vast publicity campaign encouraging them to participate.
“From our point of view, these are not real elections. The new electoral code flouts everything that constitutes a real ballot. The fact that the new distribution of seats was desired, decided upon and imposed by Beijing clearly shows that the principle is no longer respected. [de la Basic Law, la mini-Constitution] : “Hong Kong ruled by Hong Kong people” », declares to World a former district councilor of the Democratic Party. Like many others, he resigned from his political office “To protect his family”.
Radical overhaul of the regional parliament
When the former British colony was returned to the People’s Republic of China in 1997, Hong Kong was to enjoy a “High degree of autonomy”, according to the “One country two systems” principle, for at least fifty years. But without waiting for 2047, China, in less than two years, imposed tight control over its small special administrative region. Consequence, the concept of “Hongkong run by the people of Hongkong” has been replaced by “Hong Kong run by patriots”. Carrie Lam, chief executive, talks only about democracy “Improved”.
The new electoral code, introduced in March, imposed a radical overhaul of the composition of the Legco. If the increase in the number of seats, from 70 to 90, may at first glance seem more democratic, the reverse has happened: the 35 seats elected by direct universal suffrage have been reduced to 20. As for the other 35 seats, reserved for professional corporations, were already largely acquired by the pro-Beijing camp and did not represent any threat. The Chinese power has however reduced them slightly, from 35 to 30, because they undoubtedly still gave too much influence to the large families of Hong Kong, that Beijing also intends to better control.
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In Hong Kong, a ballot locked by Beijing