Hong Kong, half-empty ballot boxes in elections for “patriots” only

from Guido Santevecchi

Opposition in prison or in exile. Beijing satisfied: everything took place in order

The Hong Kong elections were held in the order the Chinese news agency writes Xinhua, rejoicing in the success against the campaign of slander mounted by outside forces. No comments on the winners and losers of the vote for the Legislative Council, the Parliament of the territory with special administration: it is useless to dwell on the names, because Beijing had already made sure they were only welcome, reserving with a reform introduced in March all 20 seats offered by popular suffrage to patriots, that is to say politicians who love China and the Communist government that has led it unchallenged and unchallenged for over seventy years.

The new electoral mechanism was given to the former British colony to improve the system, which translated from the language of Beijing means putting out the opposition and avoiding the repetition of the shock of 2019, when after months of protests and clashes in the streets the anti-communist democratic front had won 90% of the seats in the district councils.

The patriotic clause it shut the mouth of non-aligned candidates and, for greater guarantee, the ameliorative reform written in Beijing established that only 20 of the 90 seats on the Legislative Council leave the popular vote; another 40 are assigned by an Electoral Commission of 1,448 sages devoted to the Party and the remaining 30 distributed by business and commerce corporations that have every interest in making the Chinese motherland happy. With these premises, the Chinese order reigned over the Hong Kong political elections. Everything perfect, except that according to the data released one hour after the closing of the polls, only 30% of the 4.5 million Hong Kongers with voting rights went to the polling stations (a drop from 58% in 2016). Never mind, chief executive (governor) Carrie Lam says the low number of voters signals general public satisfaction with the government.

In his editorial on these patriots-only elections, the Xinhua instead it exalted the 98% participation among the 1,448 members of the Electoral Commission, which in addition to directly choosing 40 deputies had examined the patriotic credentials of the candidates. The result is that for the 90 seats up for grabs only 153 candidates came forward compared to 289 in the 2016 elections and no more than 10 dared to declare themselves sympathetic to the opposition movement to the local government (while necessarily swearing allegiance to China and its political system).

The substance of the elections for the Legislative Council and the new political environment created by the Chinese National Security Act introduced in Hong Kong in July 2020 which is the only place for opponents to be declared in the city in prison or exile. In January, the police raided and arrested 47 of the exponents best known of the opposition, who had exposed themselves in 2020 by organizing the primaries in the democratic field: according to the accusation, they had subversive aims because they aimed to hinder the government’s action. Who made it in time fled into self-exile abroad. And among the few left on the loose in Hong Kong, another 10 ended up in cells in recent days for inciting abstention: there is also a law for this which provides for sentences of up to three years in prison. So the elections were held in order.