This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: Spring 2004 L10 Lecture 10
The Evolution of the Electoral System and Elections in HK (A) Major Electoral Systems in the World
(1) The Single-member Constituency System (單議席單票制)
The Single Member (SM) system’s basic philosophy is to elect the person who can best
represent the district. The candidate who gets the most votes wins, regardless of how many
votes s-he gets. It is thus a “winner-takes-all” or “first-past-the-post” system. Countries that
used the system to elect the legislature: US, UK.
(2) The Proportional Representation System (比例代表制) (PR)
PR’s basic philosophy is to allocate seats in the legislature according to the proportion of
votes obtained by a party. That is, if a party gets about 20% of votes in the election, it should
get about 20% of seats in the legislature. It is difficult to achieve perfect proportionality,
thus there are different formulas to calculate the remainders in PR to decide how to allocate
the seats. Hong Kong uses the Largest Remainder Formula (最大餘額法). Countries that
used PR: most European democracies.
(3) The Single-Non-Transferable-Vote System (多議席單票制) (SNTV)
In a constituency where N seats will be elected, the first N candidates who get the most votes
will be elected. It does not matter how many votes a candidate gets, or the proportion of
votes s-he gets. Japan before 1993 and currently Taiwan uses this system.
Merits and Defects of Various Electoral Systems
The SM System
Merits: The SM system is simple and easy to understand, and has better accountability since
each district has only one representative. It is also very sensitive to public opinion changes.
It is easy to bring about a majority government and thus brings stability.
Defects: It will over-represent major parties, and under-represent small parties. Small
1 Spring 2004 L10 parties’ interests will then be sacrificed.
The PR System
Merits: PR can relatively accurately represent the distribution of opinion in society. It
allows the representation of small parties and minorities (ethnic or religious).
Defects: It will allow “extremist” parties to be represented in the legislature, which may
bring instability to the system. As it is difficult for any one party to get more than half of the
seats under PR, majority govts are unlikely if the country adopts a parliamentary system.
Parties are forced to enter into coalition governments, which may bring political instability.
Merits: The system allows minority candidates to be represented, while guaranteeing that
large parties would still gain an advantage.
Defects: It will not as accurately reflect voters’ opinion as PR. It leads to strategic voting
(策略性投票), which distorts the choice of voters. The experience in Taiwan and Japan
shows that the system leads to corruption, factionalism, and money politics (金權政治).
(B) Evolution of Elections and Electoral System in Hong Kong
The 1991 Election and Subsequent Debates In the 1991 election, the govt adopted a double-seat, double-vote system (雙議席雙票
制). The 18 directly-elected seats were elected by 9 double-seat constituencies, and
each voter can vote for two candidates. The two candidates that got the most votes win.
The system was supposed to allow some conservative candidates to get the second seat. In 1991, the candidates’ attitude to the Tiananmen crackdown was the most important
campaign issue. The record of candidates in the Hong Kong democracy movement was
also seen as very important. As a result, the democrats won a landslide victory in the
1991 election. UDHK won 12 seats out of 18, Meeting Point 2, other democrats 2. The democrats' victory led to criticisms against the electoral system. The conservatives
(e.g., CRC 啟聯) claimed that weaker pro-democracy candidates won because of a
"coat-tail" effect (聯票效應). They suggested to use the SNTV(多議席單票制) system
in the future. The democrats insisted that the old system had no problems, but they
2 Spring 2004 L10 could agree to a single-member constituency system (SM) (單議席單票制). Patten’s reform proposal suggested to use the single-member system in the 1995 Legco
direct election. The democrats largely supported Patten in this aspect. The
conservatives and pro-China groups supported the SNTV system. After the Sino-British talks over Patten's proposal broke off, the SM system was adopted
for the 1995 election. The Chinese govt heavily criticized the system as one that
favored the democrats, that it would lead to one-party dominance (一黨獨大).
The 1995 Election and Subsequent Changes The 1995 election was a face-off between the pro-democracy camp and the pro-PRC
camp. In the 20 constituencies, 11 were one-on-one contests between democrats and
pro-PRC/conservatives. The major campaign issue in 1995 was the attitude to China. The pro-PRC camp, led
by DAB, hailed that electing candidates who had good relationship with China will help
a smooth transition(平穩過渡). They accused the democrats of confronting China and
destabilizing Hong Kong (反中亂港). The democrats, led by DP, claimed that they
were “firm and trustworthy” (堅定可信). They said that HK needed legislators who
dared to say “no” to the Chinese govt and could stand firm for HK’s interests. DP won a hard-fought victory. They won 12 of the 20 directly elected seats. Other
democrats won 4. DAB fielded 7 and only 2 won. After the election, the Chinese govt.
concluded that the single-member system was “tailor-made” for the democrats. The
PWC (預委會) suggested to abolish the SM system and use SNTV after 1997. In 1997, under severe public criticisms against the SNTV system, the SAR govt decided
to adopt PR for Legco elections after 1997. The 1998 and 2000 Elections Both the 1998 and 2000 elections used the PR system. HK was divided into 5
constituencies, each constituency electing 3 to 5 seats in 1998, 4 to 6 seats in 2000. In both elections, the China factor was less important than in pre-97 elections. With the
economic crisis looming, all candidates spent more time on economic issues, but their
3 Spring 2004 L10 platforms did not show a lot of differences. In both elections, the democrats adopted a relatively anti-government position. They
criticized the performance of the SAR govt. after the handover. DAB and other progovernment candidates were branded as “Royalists” (保皇黨). DAB criticized the
democrats as too radical and extreme and claimed that DAB was a stabilizing force in
HK. In 1998 DP won 9 out of 20 directly elected seats. DAB won 5. The Frontier won 4.
The proportion of seats obtained by the two large parties was close to the proportion of
votes they got. It was not very favorable to small parties, as the district magnitude was
small. In 2000 the Gary Cheng (程介南) scandal led to a lot of negative campaigns. On the
other hand, it led to a sense of crisis among the pro-PRC camp, which stepped up their
mobilization and maintained their core supporters’ support. The splitting of lists (分拆名單) and strategic voting (策略投票) were new phenomena
in the 2000 election. These two phenomena will continue in future elections. The 2000 result: DP won 9, DAB+HKPA won 8 (7), other democrats 6 (7). The prodemocracy camp’s vote share dropped from 64% to 55%. DP lost 170,000 votes and
the vote share dropped from 43% to 35%(8%). (C) The Functional Constituency System and Its Debates The FC system was first conceived in the 1984 Green Paper. It was designed to protect
the interests of business and professional groups, who were well-represented in the
Legco before the introduction of elections in 1985. The conservatives and the business sector claimed that if all Legco members were
directly elected, it will lead to a welfare state and hurts stability and prosperity of HK. It mostly adopts corporate voting. With the exception of some constituencies for
professionals (e.g., teachers, lawyers, accountants, etc.) which vote on an individual
basis, only organizations and companies can vote. The FC system has been widely criticized since its inception:
4 Spring 2004 L10 1. Unfairness in voting rights: the system gives rich people and professionals more than
one vote, thus violating the one-person-one-vote (一人一票) principle. It violates the
democratic principle of equality of voting rights.
2. Small-circle election (小圈子選舉). Small number of voters (e.g. one hundred or
several hundred electors) makes the election more liable to corruption and manipulation.
Companies and organizations usually vote by delegates, and the selection process of the
delegates is also not very transparent. It is doubtful if the delegates can even represent
the interests of the shareholders or members of organizations.
3. Problem of inclusion and exclusion: it is difficult to define which sectors are
“functional” and which are not. It is up to the govt. to define who are included as FC, and
the govt can select the pro-govt sectors and groups. It will create endless debates as
many groups want to be included in FCs. There are also no objective criteria to
determine who should be allowed to register as voters in a certain functional
4. The FC system promotes narrow interests and is not conducive to political
compromises within the legislature. It is also not favorable to the development of
political parties. Under the voting-by-group arrangement, it will make it more difficult
for motions to pass the functional group.
(D) The Election Committee System (after 1997)
1. The 800 election committee (EC) (選舉委員會) members, according to the Basic Law,
was divided as follows: 200 business and financial sector, 200 from the professionals,
200 from labor, social services, religious and other sectors, 200 from members of Legco,
NPC (人大) and CPPCC (政協) members, and district organizations. Most of the 800
EC members are elected by members or organizations of their respective sectors along
the lines of FC elections (界別選舉).
2. Criticisms against the EC system:
The EC is a standing body with a term of office of five years. It is a rare system to
set up a permanent election committee to elect something, without any other functions. 5 Spring 2004 L10 Political groups may exert influence on the Chief Executive during his/her term, by dint of
the votes they control in the EC. This creates conflict of interests or questions on the
policies of CE. Because most of the EC representatives are elected along the lines of functional
constituencies, the system shares the criticisms against the FC system. As the govt plays a major role in defining how the 800 seats are divided, the govt
can more or less affect the election result. 6 Spring 2004 L10 Vote and Seat Shares of Different Parties in the Elections
Party DP DAB HKPA
2.8% LP Frontier ADPL 1.6% N/A 9.5% 1995 Vote share 41.9% 15.4% 1995 seats (share) 12(60%) 2(10%) 0 1 (5%) N/A 2(10%) 1998 vote share 42.2% 25.2% 0 3.4% 10.0% 4.0% 1998 seats 9 (45%) 5(25% 0 0 3 (15%) 0 2000 vote share 34.8% 29.8% 1.9% 6.8% 4.8% 2000 seats 9(37.5%) 7(29.2%) 0 2 (8.3%) 1(4.2%) 1 Votes Obtained by Major Parties, 1998 and 2000
Parties 1998 total votes 1998 vote share 2000 total votes 2000 vote share DP 634,635 42.91% 462,423 (172,211) 35.0%
(-7.9%) DAB 373,428 25.2% 391,718
(+4.5%) Frontier 187,134 12.65% 201,079
(+2.6%) ADPL 59,034 4.0% 62,717 (+3,683) 4.8%
(+0.8%) Camp 1998 votes 1998 vote share 2000 votes 2000 vote share Democrats 950,007 64.2% 754,350 57.2% Pro-China 399,333 27.0% 400,553 30.4% Others/Independents 130,900 8.9% 164,791 12.5% 7 Spring 2004 L10 8 ...
View Full Document
This note was uploaded on 09/16/2010 for the course SOSC SOSC198 taught by Professor Michelle during the Spring '09 term at HKUST.
- Spring '09