Obviously, the mixed results invite all the cognitive dissonance you can handle, and allow both pro-dem and pro-Beijing camps to celebrate certain selected successes of their own, and to gloat over each other’s particular misfortunes.
One interesting statistic is the yield of seats to votes: the pro-Beijing camp got 70% of the seats with 50% of the vote. Unlike Legislative Council geographical constituencies, with their multi-seat, proportional-representation jiggery-pokery, these are straightforward first-past-the-post competitions, so (leaving aside any gerrymandering) no-one can complain about an unfair structure.
We can explain what is happening in business terms. The pro-Beijing camp had more capital to invest in marketing and PR (grassroots social work and voter registration) and in distribution (campaign workers and transport for the bewildered old folk dragged out of their elderly homes). They also ruthlessly carved up geographical regions among monopoly suppliers to avoid cannibalization of market share. The pro-dems, on the other hand, had far fewer resources to play with, and competed among themselves in some regions while having zero presence in some others.
But – who has the better product and the more-desirable consumer base? The older generation of traditional pro-democrats, the grim grassroots-fixated pro-Beijing ogres and grumpy and bitter onlookers are all understandably wary of disruptive innovation in the form of Umbrella/localist youngsters. But the real story is surely the demographics.
The future of the pro-Beijing camp is to push its dying brand’s putrid product by expanding market share among poor and senile residents of old people’s homes. Compare that with the pro-dems’ unique selling proposition – freedom, love, peace and humour, aimed especially at the exciting youth market. Come IPO time, where would you put your money?
Of course, this is not a free market: the Communist Party is ultimately a monopoly that assumes the right to hold consumers captive, at gunpoint if need be. Next year’s Legislative Council elections will, as usual, be rigged. Small mainly pro-establishment functional constituencies will decide half the seats, and the geographic-constituency races will be tilted in favour of the disciplined and well-financed United Front groups. Hong Kong’s real politics will take place elsewhere. But young activists who can conjure up a third of the vote could seriously stir things up, if they’re allowed to. That will certainly be on Beijing officials’ minds, so soon after having fired Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak-shing for his ‘inadequate youth work’…