China’s Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Macau will hold elections for its legislative assembly today.
The former Portuguese colony has a hybrid semi-democratic system under Beijing’s “one country, two systems” SAR policies for Macau. This will see 14 directly elected representatives, 12 indirectly elected representatives from mostly pro-Beijing industry and interest group bodies and an additional seven members chosen by the Beijing-appointed Chief Executive—a post held by Ho Lat Seng since 2019.
Expect the 22-year dominance of pro-Beijing representatives to continue in the 33-seat assembly. The system is heavily skewed towards pro-Beijing candidates who have held over 80% of assembly seats since the end of Portuguese rule in 1999. Only four pro-democracy members have been elected in the past 12 years and that trend is almost certain to continue after 21 opposition candidates were disqualified in lead-up to today’s vote.
A pro-Beijing assembly in the medium-term will mean significantly increased integration with China. This includes financial integration with China under the recently approved Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area Wealth Connects programme—allowing for greater reliance on Chinese investors for Macanese projects, but also theoretically making it easier to seize the financial assets of dissidents.
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John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.