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Hong Kong by-election in Kowloon West constituency to determine legislature balance of power

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Hong Kong by-election in Kowloon West constituency to determine legislature balance of power

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Photo: Reuters

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.

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