The main impact of the District Council elections will be in the response from Beijing and the local administration to their major kick in the teeth. The Hong Kong government is, predictably, blinking stupidly and struck dumb. Its CCP masters are frantically trying to come to terms with it all.
Meanwhile, pro-democrats find themselves with some 390 of the 452 seats on District Councils, and in control of 17 of the 18 bodies.
Over-excitable observers foresee greater pro-dem influence over the Chief Executive ‘Election Committee’ mechanism. They should calm down. The CCP does not allow unexpected or external factors to influence its rubber-stamp CE selection system. Remember that this system generated 689 votes (57% of the total) for someone everyone hated. Don’t fuss about the structural and procedural details – the outcome is decided by Beijing and Beijing only.
The DC elections result will give pan-dems the District Council (First) Functional Constituency seat in the Legislative Council, but does not itself much affect the likely outcome of the five at-large seats representing the District Council (Second) Functional Constituency. (As with CE ‘election’, the idiotic complexity is by design; it masks the way the underlying system is rigged.)
The 390 newbies on the advisory, largely powerless boards are mostly young and inexperienced. Their work as District Councilors will be to handle complaints about often very mundane matters (like location of bus stops). But in theory – especially if they break with pan-dem tradition and get their act together – they could use their combined influence to pressure government on planning and other issues. Indeed, with a clear mandate, of the sort Carrie Lam can only dream of, they can potentially add massively to the opposition voice in general.
One interesting aspect of this is the financial compensation. Each councilor gets a monthly salary of HK$33,950 and another HK$44,800 for expense such as assistants and office space. That’s around HK$950,000 a year. The pan-dem movement will find itself HK$370 million a year better off. While Beijing’s officials were happy about this sort of taxpayers’ money going into the pro-Beijing camp’s district operations, they will be mightily miffed to see government bankroll the evil CIA-backed unpatriotic traitors of the opposition.
Pro-government types are dying to see the new councilors mess up (wah – no administrative experience!) It’s possible that Beijing officials will try to sabotage their work and turn constituents against them, for example by demanding that civil servants delay handling pro-dem councilors’ queries or (as in Singapore) simply deliver lower-quality services to opposition neighbourhoods.
On the other hand, if Hong Kong ever gets representative government, Lucifer Siu and the other 390 are likely to form the foundation of the city’s political talent.