The answer to Friday’s question is ‘yes’ – by a whisker, with the ‘election’ turnout (in geographical constituencies) hitting a just, barely, too-pitiful-to-be-fake 30.2%. Sighs of relief in government circles that the figure wasn’t 20-something, but still ‘hugely embarrassing’. Thank heavens for those 17,000 voters living across the border.
However, if you exclude invalid/spoiled ballots, it apparently comes to 29.6%.
The low turnout was because of evil foreign forces stopping citizens from voting, right? But no – it was because of the free bus rides that were designed to encourage people to go to the polling stations. Or maybe it was because of a reluctance to lend legitimacy to a rigged process, or because there were no candidates for most of the public to vote for.
The ballot in most two-seat GCs comprised one DAB candidate, one from the FTU (or other Beijing loyalist group), plus a designated loser to make it look like there was a competition of some sort. Needless to say, the latter ‘non-establishment’ people all lost. This pattern looks to have been repeated in the functional constituencies. FCs with broad electorates (teachers, medics, lawyers, etc) showed clear signs of a boycott by pan-dem voters (more here).
That leaves the Election Committee, in which 1,500 (mostly) Beijing loyalists elect 40 of the 90 seats in the new all-patriots Legislative Council. The authorities deny suggestions that Beijing circulated a list of preferred candidates, but this segment of LegCo members is obviously designed to be hand-pickable, and with only 51 candidates to fill 40 seats, it would be easy to arrange a specific outcome. Winners included former members from the now-reduced GCs (Priscilla Leung, Elizabeth Quat, Junius Ho, etc). Among the losers were the two token whites, Allen Zeman and Mike Rowse.
In short, multiple layers of rigging and micromanagement produce a 100% pure rubber-stamp LegCo.
The word now is that Beijing will issue a ‘white paper’ imminently. That of 2014 emphasized ‘comprehensive jurisdiction’ – that Hong Kong was Beijing’s to treat any way it wished, with no rights of its own. A second one might in theory discuss some sort of further constitutional ‘improvements’ to build on the patriots-only ‘election’ system. Probably not worth losing any sleep over. Like the question of whether Carrie Lam gets a second term.
(Update: white paper here – just a massive 57-page Word doc press release justifying rigged elections.)
Among snippets from Twitter: Pan-dem/protest imagery on pro-Beijing/voting banners; some of many photos comparing yesterday’s turnout with the lines outside polling stations in 2019; at mid-afternoon, pro-Beijing workers are knocking on doors in a Tsuen Wan estate trying to get people to turn out; even Beijing’s loyalists were frustrated at the lack of voters; and ‘19.15: In Taipo, campaigner Wong Shing-chi is talking to thin air as it gets cold and dark’. (With tragic photo.)
After decades of trying, does Nury Vittachi finally manage to be funny in this vid on the frenzied excitement of election day? Or is he trying too hard – as if desperate to please someone who might turn nasty without warning? Supercilious or petrified? Either way, you know that he knows he’s talking crap.
Among SCMP’s rolling updates, tycoon Charles Ho lashes out at Carrie Lam (scroll down), and this…
Post reporters stationed at polling centres in Sham Shui Po, Tai Kok Tsui, Kennedy Town and Yau Ma Tei throughout the day have observed that voters have been mostly elderly or middle-aged, with very few young people coming out to cast their ballot.
Absolutely! Passing my local polling station this morning made me feel sprightly and lithe again. Though the pro-Beijing workers picking up elderly voters in buses missed one.
Some last-minute commentary on the quasi-elections…
Johnny Patterson : “These sham elections are a farce. The Communist Party in Beijing decided that an easy way of winning the election would be to lock up the entire opposition and rig the rules. This is not a democratic vote, it is a propaganda exercise which has no legitimacy.”
After banning, putting behind bars, and forcing pro-democracy candidates into exile, there is – for the first time – no genuine competition in the LegCo elections.
In classic doublespeak, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam – who owes her own political rise to profoundly undemocratic processes – praised the “overhaul” of the LegCo electoral system for enabling “broad representation” and “political inclusion.”
Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her cabinet cannot convince Hong Kongers that taking away their right to nominate LegCo candidates is an “improvement.”