A few ideas I jotted down whilst waiting for the bus
Never trust exit polls

Vote Vote Vote

The Legco elections take place today, and I have to admit that I'm having trouble taking them seriously.

The first problem is that we are not electing a government - oh no, that isn't the way things work here.

That leads directly to the second problem - politics in Hong Kong is more about posturing than policy.  It is meaningless for a party to promise smaller class sizes, higher welfare benefits, or lower taxes, when they won't have the opportunity to implement the policies (one might say the same about the Liberal Democrats in the UK, but at least they pretend they could form a government). 

So in broad terms we have two groupings: the pan-democrats and the pro-Beijing parties.  Those labels are not very helpful, because not many people in Hong Kong are either anti-democracy or anti-Beijing, but I suppose we all understand what they mean.  Another way of looking at it is that the pro-Beijing parties (the DAB and the Liberal Party) tend to be more supportive of the Hong Kong government, and the pan-democrats normally oppose the government, but again that's not terribly useful.          

The third problem is the voting system.  Hong Kong has 5 large constituencies, each electing between 5 and 8 legislators.  If this system was used in the UK it would produce a more representative House of Commons because the Liberal Democrats would be guaranteed at least one seat in almost all the constituencies. In Hong Kong it also produces a fairly representative Legco, with the main advantage (cynics say) of ensuring that the pro-Beijing parties are well-represented in Legco - at least in part because the "pan-democrats" are generally not as organized or disciplined as the pro-Beijing parties. 

Take New Territories East, which has no less than 10 different lists.  There are two lists for the "pro-Beijing" parties: the DAB expect to win two seats and the Liberal Party's James Tien would expect to win another.  That leaves four more seats, and you might expect the pan-democrats to win all of them.  The problem is that they have five different lists (unlike last time when there was a single "7.1 United Front" list). The Democratic Party alone has two lists, the second one apparently being for their younger members.  Then there's The Frontier (Emily Lau Wai-Hing), and the Civic Party (Ronny Tong Ka-Wah), who were also on the "7.1 United Front" list 4 years ago.  There's also the League of Social Democrats (Leung Kwok Hung, aka 'Long Hair), who wasn't.

The problem for the pan-democrats is that the result is largely going to depend how the votes are split between these five lists, and it is quite possible (based on opinion polls) that Scarlett Pong Oi-Lan (running as an independent, but regarded as 'pro-Beijing') could edge out either Emily Lau or 'Long Hair'.  On the other hand, the pan-democrats could get five seats. 

The biggest weakness of the 'party list' system is that if a list gets get too few votes to elect a single candidate, none of those votes really count.  Equally, if a list gets enough votes to elect one candidate, but not enough to elect a second candidate then again the excess votes also don't count.  The solution is STV (single transferrable vote) , which has the added advantage that voters could choose their preferred candidates rather than being stuck with the party lists.  You'd like to vote Liberal but can't stand James Tien?  Well, you would be able to do just that - but don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

The fourth problem is that it all seems much more showbiz that serious politics.  Some candidates have been using empty-headed celebrities to promote their election bids, and the debates (shown on Cable TV) have seen a lot of shouting but very little serious discussion - which is hardly surprising when they are conducted in a public open space and the 30 or so candidates are flanked by noisy supporters.  It's almost as if they really don't want us to take it too seriously.    


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Or it could be that "voting," HK style, is just so much opiate for the masses - churn them out to vote, then they'll think they have any actual power?
Ah ha ha ha, what a lark eh. What a kindergarten. What a way to make the unwashed masses to shut up and keep the real power players of HK: property developers, in clover. How they must laugh at the people who can never afford a house, let alone have any political power, turning out for this Mickey Mouse event.

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