Where is the Love?  Hong Kong's Chief Executive Election 2012

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Executive Summary:

 

Candidate preferences

While parties control the lion’s share of votes in the 1200 member Chief Executive Election Committee, section A of Part IV shows that a large proportion of the public does not cite a party as best representing their interests, or they don’t know which one does.  As with the parties, questions posed to respondents about their preferences for Chief Executive if they could vote show a significant proportion who say they Don’t Know, and in the latest survey, about one in five who reject the three candidates remaining in the race at this point.

 

Table 16 in section B of Part IV indicates that among every category of party preference as representing respondent’s interests best, whether it is pro-establishment, pro-democracy, pro-labour or those who prefer None of the above or Don’t Know, a plurality, but not a majority, of voters lean toward C.Y. Leung.  Ironically, it is among the pro-labour supporters that Leung comes closest to a majority at 50 percent, but this is the grouping of parties that either condemns and boycotts the Chief Executive Election Committee or wants to cast a blank ballot in protest (League of Social Democrats, People’s Power and Confederation of Trade Unions).  Those who say the pro-establishment parties (DAB, FTU, Liberals and New People’s Party) represent them best appear the most evenly divided between the two establishment candidates of Tang and Leung, while those citing the pro-democracy group (Democratic Party and Civic Party) as representing them best appear the most evenly fragmented among Tang, Leung, Ho, and None of the above.  The pro-democracy FC  registered voters support Leung less than those among the general public who say either the Democratic Party or the Civic Party best represents them (39 percent versus 23 percent).  But generally, the FC voter’s preferences appear fairly reflective of the general public’s sentiments.  There is nearly unanimous support for the candidates to hold televised debates and public forums.

 

Identity and patriotism

Among both general public and FC voters and all categories of identity, those who say they are proud or excited on National Day form a minority.  No category of identity, and no category of feelings on National Day, among either the general public or FC voters, shows a majority association of a particular category of feeling such as pride or indifference with one of the other forms of identity such as Chinese or Hong Kong person.  One cannot claim they can tell whether someone is “patriotic” or not by how they choose to describe themselves, nor can one tell from how one feels on National Day—be it a feeling of indifference, pride, excitement or unease—what way they might choose to identify themselves.  But both a majority of FC voters and the general public said Hong Kong’s identity as pluralistic and international was most important to them personally to be protected and promoted.  China’s identity as ruled by the CCP—the most “nationalistic” of the options—barely registered on the chart, with 1 percent and 2 percent respectively saying that form of China’s identity was most important to them personally.  There is no unpatriotic “foreign” element in Hong Kong.  Those who have experience abroad, foreign right of abode, or close relatives living abroad show no significant difference in what they see as personally as the most important identity of Hong Kong and China to protect and promote.

 

Fairness

Though Chief Executive Donald Tsang has expressed grave concerns about Hong Kong’s economic growth in light of possible global economic shocks both here and at Davos, economic fairness appears to be of greater concern to the respondents to this survey.  Nearly 8 in 10 respondents want Chief Executive candidates to address what they consider the most urgent issues of the wealth gap, affordable housing, socio-economic stress, and systemic reforms to healthcare, education, policy-making and pollution.  These are all matters in which the rich and powerful exercise considerable advantages and influences beyond those available to most others. Fairness is a concern that has also appeared in previous studies in this series, as may be seen in many of the reports posted at http://www.hktp.org   As with the previous studies, FC registered voters show larger proportions who are convinced that the government does not make policies fairly, than those among the general public who say government policy making is unfair.  But both in overwhelming majorities hold unfairness characterizes policy making in Hong Kong.  Those who support Henry Tang, as might be expected, show higher levels of feeling policy making by the Hong Kong government is fair.  But the proportion is significantly lower for those who support the other “establishment” candidate C.Y. Leung, and even less for those supporting a pro-democracy candidate.  But the lowest levels of thinking policy making is fair are among the large proportion of respondents who say they Don’t Know who they would vote for and lowest among those who say they would vote for none of the candidates named.

 

Problem solving

Dissatisfaction with government’s performance on the problem of greatest personal concern to a respondent is highest since 2003.  By a better than 2 to 1 margin, 15 percent versus 36 percent, respondents think C. Y. Leung would do the best job to improve government’s performance on their problem of greatest personal concern.  Among FC registered voters, the margin narrows, with 22 percent citing Tang and 33 percent citing Leung.  Still, bare majorities cite one of the establishment candidates, with most of the rest saying none of the candidates or they don’t know a candidate who will improve government’s performance. 

 

Constitutional reform

The next Chief Executive has no option but to propose a system for directly electing the next Chief Executive in 2017 given Beijing’s approval of directly electing a Chief Executive by that date.  Postponing direct election for the next Chief Executive would meet a wave of disapproval, but the exact way forward is by no means clear.  This is the one policy area no candidate can evade once elected.  Views are split on retaining the Chief Executive Election Committee as purely a nominating committee, but there is clear majority support for a primary system.  A plurality favor allowing Chief Executive candidates to be members of a party.  Reforming Functional Constituencies by eliminating corporate voting and equalizing, as much as possible, the number of voters in each constituency is supported by seven out of ten respondents among both the general public and among FC voters.  A majority of 56 percent of the general public and 54 percent of FC registered voters support abolishing FCs completely.  About one in three oppose.  But 79 percent of the general public and 82 percent of FC voters support directly electing the Chief Executive.  And 80 percent of the public and 84 percent of FC registered voters support direct election of all Legco members with barely one in ten in opposition and the rest saying they don’t know.  The goal of democratizing Hong Kong policy making and governance with direct elections is now clearly agreed by an overwhelming majority; there is no longer a debate about whether Hong Kongers are “mature” enough to elect their leaders.  Donald Tsang’s successor will not have to repeat the announcement of our political maturity which he made shortly after his election in 2007, for both Beijing officials and Hong Kong people agree, the time is soon for the realization of promises made long ago.  The exact road to that lofty goal, however, is yet to be agreed.

 

 

Contact:  degolyer@hkbu.edu.hk (copyright HKTP 2009-2010)