Earlier today, Hong Kong’s government unveiled plans to reform the city-state’s electoral system.
This is, on the face of it, progress: last year, protests against the repressive, anti-democratic system currently used to elect Hong Kong’s chief executive, the highest role in government, brought the city to a standstill. So, a new electoral system sounds like good news, right?
Yet the plan, first mooted back in August, still doesn’t bring the system anywhere near true democracy. Since 1997, when the city-state moved from British to Chinese control, Hong Kong’s top job has been elected by a 1,200-strong panel of the city’s elite, chosen by interest groups and dominated by a pro-Beijing party. The big change announced today? Hong Kong’s 5m eligible residents can now vote, but only for up to three candidates chosen by that very same pro-China panel. Not ideal.
This half-hearted attempt at reform is, in fact, what sparked September’s “umbrella” protests in the first place, so it’s safe to say pro-democracy protesters aren’t happy with today’s announcement. The bill will go before legislators today, but must get two thirds of the vote to pass – yet 27 of the 70 legislators have pledged to veto the bill, describing it as “ridiculous”.