Turnout hits his­tor­i­cal high in EC vote

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LUIS LIU in Hong Kong luis­liu@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Hong Kong saw a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in voter turnout on Sunday in the elec­tion of the 1,200-mem­ber Elec­tion Com­mit­tee (EC) re­spon­si­ble for choos­ing the next Chief Ex­ec­u­tive.

As of 9:30 pm, the turnout stood at a record high of 42.38 per­cent, well sur­pass­ing the 27.5-per­cent turnout in De­cem­ber 2011, the last time a com­mit­tee elec­tion was held in the spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion. The new Chief Ex­ec­u­tive will be elected in March, and will as­sume of­fice about three months later.

More than 230,000 reg­is­tered vot­ers were el­i­gi­ble to cast their votes at more than 110 polling sta­tions ci­ty­wide be­tween 7:30 am and 10:30 pm on Sunday. Vote count­ing started at mid­night on Mon­day and will be com­pleted within the day.

Dis­trict coun­cils in Hong Kong Is­land and Kowloon — which was one of the 25 con­tested sub­sec­tors on Sunday — ap­peared to have the high­est turnout, with 92.79 per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers.

The Hong Kong Ba­sic Law, the city’s gov­ern­ing doc­u­ment, stip­u­lates that the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive should be elected through a broadly rep­re­sen­ta­tive EC, fol­lowed by ap­point­ment by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers come from four main sec­tors, com­pris­ing 38 sub­sec­tors rep­re­sent­ing var­i­ous trades, pro­fes­sions, la­bor and so­cial wel­fare groups, as well as dis­trict or­ga­ni­za­tions. They serve a five-year term.

On Sunday, 1,239 can­di­dates from the 25 sub­sec­tors com­peted for 733 open seats on the com­mit­tee, the Elec­toral Af­fairs Com­mis­sion of Hong Kong said ear­lier.

A to­tal of 461 seats had al­ready been au­to­mat­i­cally filled this year, in­clud­ing those that were un­con­tested and those for ex-of­fi­cio com­mit­tee mem­bers, such as lo­cal leg­is­la­tors and Hong Kong deputies to the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress.

The re­main­ing six seats are ei­ther null or va­cated for var­i­ous rea­sons. Two leg­is­la­tors-elect were dis­qual­i­fied by a court last month for de­clin­ing to prop­erly take their re­quired oaths of of­fice, thereby vi­o­lat­ing the Ba­sic Law. The two also lost their seats on the com­mit­tee.

Three other law­mak­ers are also Hong Kong deputies to the NPC at the same time.

The Elec­toral Af­fairs Com­mis­sion had also ear­lier in­val­i­dated the nom­i­na­tion of one of the 18 can­di­dates for the Im­port and Ex­port sub­sec­tor, which is en­ti­tled to 18 seats. The re­main­ing 17 can­di­dates in the sub­sec­tor were re­turned un­op­posed, leav­ing one va­cancy. There’s no le­gal re­quire­ment to ar­range an­other elec­tion to fill that va­cancy.

Po­ten­tial Chief Ex­ec­u­tive can­di­dates nor­mally an­nounce their bids af­ter a new EC is formed. On Fri­day, the city’s in­cum­bent, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun-ying, an­nounced he would not seek re-elec­tion, cit­ing fam­ily rea­sons.

The win­ning Chief Ex­ec­u­tive can­di­date has to ob­tain at least 600 votes, a ma­jor­ity of the to­tal cast by the com­mit­tee.

The win­ning Chief Ex­ec­u­tive can­di­date has to ob­tain at least 600 votes, a ma­jor­ity of the to­tal cast by the elec­tion com­mit­tee.

PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY

Elec­toral Af­fairs Com­mis­sion (EAC) Chair­man Barn­abas Fung Wah (first from left) emp­ties a bal­lot box with EAC staff at the count­ing sta­tion of the Elec­tion Com­mit­tee at Asia-World Expo on Mon­day. As of 9:30 pm on Sunday, the turnout stood at a record high of 42.38 per­cent, well sur­pass­ing the 27.5-per­cent turnout in De­cem­ber 2011, the last time a com­mit­tee elec­tion was held in the spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion.

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