Today, a Hong Kong by-election for one of six seats in the Kowloon West (KW) constituency will determine whether the opposition Pro-Democracy camp (PD) has veto powers over the semi-autonomous legislature.
The Pro-Beijing bloc currently holds a marginal 17-16 seat majority in the directly-elected half of the assembly. In keeping with a general crackdown on PD activists and groups, Beijing disqualified six PD representatives over oath-taking infractions after the 2016 general election. This includes prominent PD leader, Lau Siu Lai, who eventually vacated this seat and triggered today’s by-election.
A PD veto would be important, as it would prevent the easy passage of any new pro-Beijing law proposed by other lawmakers, retaining some influence in the predominantly pro-Beijing legislature. On the other hand, if today’s by-election is won by the Pro-Beijing bloc, the PD camp would not have any legislative influence, while further PD crackdowns would be inevitable.
The PDs face an uphill challenge to win the seat. A Pro-Beijing candidate won another KW by-election in March. Pro-Beijing candidate. Voter registrations for young voters (aged 18-40 years old)—their traditional base—has nosedived from 58% in 2016 to only 36% in March this year. Furthermore, two PD candidates are running against the sole pro-Beijing candidate, potentially splitting the PD vote.
Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.
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.