立場新聞 Stand News

對區選的一些想法

2019/11/27 — 10:22

編按:博客 Evan 指,雖然泛民於本年區選取得大多數議席,但得票比率仍然只為 6:4 ,值得深思當中問題。另外,我們亦應密切注視區選過後到底北京會如何部署明年立法會選舉。

Thoughts on the Election.

The election results have taken everyone by surprise. Poll data had suggested that there had been a swing in public sentiment away from protests, despite the majority continuing to believe the government and the police were mostly to blame. It was expected that the lack of any central election planning on the pro-protest side, the multiple parachuted candidates fielded, and the well funded political machine the pro-CCP camp were running, with heavy "celebrity" endorsements, would have meant a close contest. Indeed, the belief that numbers were turning may have been why the elections were allowed to go ahead as scheduled.

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What the results show is that outside the 20% of entrenched support that the pro-CCP have always enjoyed, mostly historic and representative of a political division among the older generation, there is very little support outside of this camp. Despite the politically charged atmosphere, the violence and shut down of large parts of Hong Kong, and the significant inconvenience, the pro-CCP camp were not able to mobilise anywhere near the numbers hoped. New voters sent a clear message: that they support the protest movement.

The first-past-the-post system returned 82% of seats to pro-protest candidates from 57% of the vote. The numbers, though impressive and surprising, were not quite the landslide. However, the numbers themselves don't tell the whole story. 

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District Councils have traditionally been dominated by the pro-CCP camp, where over the years deep roots had been laid in local communities. They have also been, by-and-large, good councillors, well funded and networked into the establishment, and unaffected by corruption. In fact, these seats were considered so safe, so deep within Beijing's pocket, that their support was presumed in the calculations of the 2014 reform package offered by Beijing. There is now a real possibility that Beijing loses control of the election committee if it is reformed along these lines — lines they have already stated as a political possibility. Might this proposal be resurrected as a possible political resolution to Hong Kong's continuing political crisis? For this the protest movement must evolve the political leadership it does not at the moment have, and which to many would be unacceptable. 

鄭泳舜 Vincent Cheng, 民建聯 DAB

鄭泳舜 Vincent Cheng, 民建聯 DAB

The election results also show that generally in areas most directly affected by the protests voters voted for pro-protest candidates. Areas least affected, such as Island South, returned pro-CCP councillors. The suggestion is that, with a few notable exceptions, areas where people have had extensive first hand experience of protests and of policing, public sentiment has turned against the police and, therefore, the official line. As a friend wryly commented, there will no doubt still be those who will declare that despite over 70% voter turnout the “silent majority” did not turn out to vote —and there will, sadly, continue to be those who will believe this. But this position is unlikely to gain traction. It will not further divide, but rather further infuriate a majority that will ask, quite understandably, whether the blind even have eyes at all to see.

This result will likely strengthen the movement, but not the violence. The violent fringe are overwhelmed by anger towards the police. These numbers will not swell unless more people are hurt by the police. There is also widespread acknowledgment within the movement that the escalating violence, if understandable, has a mistake — note the CUHK students have already apologised, and as we saw before with the airport protests, the movement is able to collectively self-reflect.

The election results will give people heart in believing that the protest movement as a whole has majority support, and may help bring more people out onto the streets in peaceful protest. It will help restore a degree of confidence in a political system that, we must remember, remains fundamentally broken. A move away from the violence that has blighted the city, and a period of calm, is much needed and can only be a good thing.

It is therefore unsurprisingly that the election results have seemingly lifted spirits in Hong Kong. One of the most unexpected but also interesting observations has been that even among some of those who voted the other way, people seem happier. The result has provided a step towards a resolution neither the HK nor national government have been able to make. It has provided that modicum of success, a real change, from which exhausted protestors may withdraw. But this optimism is tinged by the reality that this is but a first step along what remains a long, dark and arduous path.

Given how wrong expectations were going into this election, it is worth considering who is winning the fight to shape public understanding of the protests and public opinion. Beijing is winning the media and information war, simply by veering so far off field that the centre ground has shifted. But this misinformation is also harming their own assessment of the realities on the ground. 

So what does this mean for Beijing? Next year is the Legco elections. These elections matter. What will Beijing do about these? Change the rules and provoke a backlash? Only those in the thickest of bubbles continue to believe that there is noting worth protesting about, and yet another attempt to openly fix an election at such a sensitive time may leave Beijing shorn of even more support. There is already advanced discussions on possibly allowing Hong Kong citizens resident on the Mainland to vote in future elections.

There will certainly be increased attempts to shape opinion in HK further, so might they look to take more direct control of information, and does this mean possible legislation to limit access to information? Given previous actions and statements both of these options are either already in play or are likely to be enacted formally and further extended.

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