Benny Tai Yiu-ting of Occupy Central fame is set to relaunch a mock nomination and election of the chief executive. The so-called civil referendum uses a mobile app and a website to encourage people to nominate and vote for “candidates”. Critics including the privacy commissioner have expressed alarm. Tai’s previous ThunderGo mobile app debacle was accused by even some pan-democratic candidates in the last Legislative Council election of distorting the voting outcomes by favouring extremist candidates over more mainstream ones. Hong Kong’s unofficial chief executive election opinion poll PopVote back online next week
Articles about voting issues in the People’s Republic of China.
The vote for Hong Kong’s new leader kicks off this week, but most of its 3.8 million-strong electorate will have no say in choosing the winner, prompting calls for an overhaul of a system skewed towards Beijing. It is the first leadership vote since mass pro-democracy protests in 2014 failed to win political reform and comes as fears grow that China is tightening its grip on semi-autonomous Hong Kong. As the first round of voting begins, the four candidates are wooing the public — dropping in to no-frills cafes to eat local dishes with ordinary folk. But to little avail. The winner will be chosen by a committee of 1,200 representatives of special interest groups, weighted towards Beijing. According to a count by local media, only around a quarter are in the pro-democracy camp.
Almost 5,000 people marched through Hong Kong on New Year’s Day in protest against the government’s attempt to disqualify four pro-democracy lawmakers, according to a police estimate. Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous government has started legal proceedings against four recently elected legislators, who altered their swearing-in oaths to stage a protest against the Chinese government in Beijing. Their demonstration included flaunting a banner that read “Hong Kong is not China”, which used language that some have claimed was derogatory Japanese slang.
China: Pro-democracy camp wins more than a quarter of seats on Hong Kong Election Committee | Hong Kong Free Press
The pro-democracy camp has seen a landslide in at least six sectors of Sunday’s Chief Executive Election Committee poll, and expects to win at least 325 seats in the 1,200-seat committee. The camp has won all seats in six professional sectors: social welfare, IT, health services, legal, education and higher education. The camp also gained almost all seats in the accountancy sector and the architectural sectors. In the medical sector, 85 people were running for 30 seats. The pro-democracy camp sent 19 candidates and all of them won. The camp also made some breakthroughs in sectors such as Chinese medicine, with three wins out of the 30 seats.
Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong are holding a veteran democracy activist under unofficial house arrest to prevent him from standing as independent candidate in forthcoming local elections to his district People’s Congress. Retired university lecturer Sun Wenguang, 82, has been unable to leave his home in Shandong’s provincial capital Jinan since last Friday. Video seen by RFA from last week showed him canvassing potential voters and handing out leaflets on the campus of Shandong University, surrounding by unidentified men that Sun refers to as “state security police.” In a later video, Sun is shown arguing with a man in a leather jacket who prevents him from getting into the lift outside his apartment, and asks him where he is going. “It’s none of your business where I’m going,” retorts Sun. “This is a violation of my personal rights; you are not even in police uniform. What department are you from?”
He presented himself as a candidate of the people, a folksy problem-solver who would rid garbage-strewn streets of dog waste and put an end to illegal parking. But in the eyes of the authorities, Zhang Shangen, 73, a candidate in local elections in Beijing on Tuesday, was a menace seeking to undermine the Communist Party. The Chinese government blocked Mr. Zhang’s campaign at every turn, sending police officers to intimidate him and his supporters. On the eve of a major rally last month, Mr. Zhang said, the authorities whisked him to a city more than 800 miles away. “The government manipulates everything,” he said in an interview at his home in Beijing on Tuesday. “They are scared people will wake up to reality.” Tuesday was Election Day in Beijing, with thousands of seats for party-run local congresses up for grabs. Outside community centers and police stations, officials urged people to “treasure democratic rights” and “cast your sacred and solemn ballot.” But before the elections, there were no debates, town hall-style forums, social media wars or other hallmarks of participatory democracy.
When Chinese voters go to the polls, it is only to pick local representatives to advise on mundane issues like rubbish collection and parking. But when Ye Jinghuan sought election in Beijing, she was treated like an enemy of the state. Plainclothes officers tailed the 64-year old retiree as she left her home on polling day Tuesday, and she faced constant harassment from police and government officials after announcing her run, she said. The nationwide contest for spots in local legislatures, held every five years, is the only direct election in the People’s Republic of China. Authorities were eager to show off what they describe as democracy “with Chinese characteristics”, with officials ushering dozens of reporters into a polling station in Xingfu, in central Beijing. Voters filled out their pink ballot papers in front of officials, ignoring a screened-off area labelled “Secret Balloting Place”.
All around Liu Huizhen’s makeshift house, clusters of men lurked and smoked on a recent day, suspiciously eyeing passersby. Dozens of uniformed police waited in reserve, ready in case of trouble, while a thuggish man stood in the middle of the road with arms defiantly folded, preventing cars from passing. Liu, a 45-year-old farmer’s wife, appears to have the Communist Party worried, here in the village of Gaodiansan on the outskirts of Beijing. She wants to exercise her constitutional right to stand in local elections due to be held in the capital on Nov. 15, and about a dozen supporters had arrived to help her begin her campaign. They were to be blocked by a decisive show of force. “Some people think I am a troublemaker,” she said. “They think this is the government’s decision and I won’t win in the end. But I am not afraid. I have the right to participate in this election. I didn’t do anything illegal.”
China’s top legislature has expelled 45 lawmakers, or nearly half the number elected from Liaoning province, over a bribery and vote-buying scandal. The decision — announced at a highly unusual emergency meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Tuesday — comes after a two-year investigation by the Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog into election fraud in the northeastern province. China’s national and provincial lawmakers are chosen through a multitiered voting system, with members within the legislative bodies electing candidates mostly nominated by the party. An estimated 523 lawmakers out of the 619 members of Liaoning’s People’s Congress were implicated in the scandal, which involved paying “enormous amount of money” to their peers to get elected in 2013, said sources close to the investigation, which concluded in June.
Protesters in southern China are up in arms. They feel that Beijing’s promises that they’d be able to vote for their own local leaders have been honored in the breach. They’re outraged at the show of force in the face of peaceful protest, and confronted with superior government might, they are using the power of numbers and the reach of social media to make their voices heard. Readers would be forgiven for thinking the above to be a description of Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protests in October 2014 and a subsequent independence movement have captured global attention. But it also depicts Wukan, a small mainland Chinese village about a three and-a-half-hour drive east of the former British colony. In December 2011, it became a global symbol for a new style of Chinese governance when a citizen uprising against illegal land seizures and a brief exercise in self-rule during a police blockade elicited promises of village-level democratization from Beijing. Now citizen unrest is making headlines once again.