Comparative profiles and attitudes of FC voters versus GC voters in the 2004 LegCo election campaign

Michael E Degolyer*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    Abstract

    In a first in Hong Kong political studies, the Hong Kong Transition Project (HKTP) and Civic Exchange have compiled a comprehensive picture of functional constituency voters.1 The key findings of this comparative voting sector research are that Hong Kong's increasingly contentious politics appear to be strongly connected to feelings of unfair influence stemming from the grossly inequitable voting power between functional constituency (FC) seats and geographical constituency (GC) seats, as well as extremely disproportional power, franchises, and election processes among FC seats. At the same time, and in seeming contradiction, many support special influence for the educated and well-off, though many without an FC vote want the FC franchises expanded and the two groups, FC Legislative Council (LegCo) members and GC LegCo members, separated into two bodies. However, upper houses in bicameral systems intentionally select more broadly representative members while lower houses are more narrowly geographically and interest orientated. In Hong Kong, the case is reversed, with the FC portion very narrow in interests and more geographically concentrated (research revealed residents of Hong Kong Island have considerably greater representational power and influence, especially among FCs). Also, as two in five FC voters live there, and FC voters are more active in civil society and among government and media than GC voters, legislative focus tends to be dominated by Hong Kong Island issues and voters. Many FCs have, in addition, large portions of voters who are civil servants or from the quasi-public sector. These are further inputs to the prevailing sense of unfairness which increases the bitterness of debate and erodes the legitimacy of the SAR system which promised to replace colonial inequity with 'Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong'. The research also found that FC voters' greater civil participation, rather than their privileged position of power and influence (a factor normally conducing to isolation), may be why FC voters are more supportive of constitutional reforms toward full direct election of the chief executive and all members of LegCo than GC voters. Their extensive civil participation exposes them more than GC voters to the divisive effects the current unfair 'representative' system is having on social cohesion and governmental legitimacy. FC voters are more worried about instability, and more prepared to react to it by leaving Hong Kong, than GC voters. The vast majority of Hongkongers want social stability and economic prosperity. Most realise to ensure those goals requires a more equitable distribution of political and economic power. How to ensure a fairness that is the basis for legitimacy, while building in protections for property and minority rights (explicitly economic or 'class' minorities) which are the requirements of prosperity, lies at the heart of Hong Kong's reform dilemma. For this pioneering research project, the HKTP conducted 1,286 interviews with registered FC voters in a series of telephone surveys from May to September 2004 during the campaigning for the 2004 Legislative Council (LegCo) election. Voters from all 28 FCs2 were randomly interviewed and proportionally representative subsamples were extracted. In this chapter, samples of FC-registered and likely voters are compared with a dataset of 3,363 GC-registered and likely voters accumulated randomly over the same timespan.3 In the latter part, the pre-election GC/FC surveys are compared to an 800 sample GC/400 sample FC post-election survey conducted in mid-December 2004. The post-election survey focused primarily on issues of constitutional reform and reveals, for the first time, views of GC voters compared to FC voters on reforms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationFunctional Constituencies
    Subtitle of host publicationA Unique Feature of The Hong Kong Legislative Council (with CD)
    PublisherHong Kong University Press
    Pages155-198
    Number of pages44
    ISBN (Print)9789622097902
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Social Sciences(all)

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