Activists in the Chinese casino centre Macau have began voting in an unofficial referendum on electoral reform despite strong objections from Beijing. The referendum will run for a week to end on August 30, one day before the Special Administrative Region’s new leader is named by a 400-member committee. The former Portuguese colony returned to Chinese rule in 1999 and has a separate legal system from the mainland. Like Hong Kong, Macau’s leader is known as its chief executive and is chosen by a pro-Beijing electoral committee. “Our goal is to fight for a democratic electoral system and the first stage is to get the citizens informed of the election system,” poll organiser Jason Chao said in the leadup to the event. “We hope that the referendum will be able to serve as a foundation for our fight for democracy in the future.”
The event’s official website detailed that within hours of the poll opening, about 750 people had voted.
Questions include whether there should be universal suffrage for the 2019 chief executive elections and how confident voters are about the sole candidate in this year’s election – Fernando Chui, who has held the chief executive position since 2009.
Residents are asked to vote either electronically or at several locations in the city.