China has finally decided to reform Hong Kong’s electoral system radically. In parliamentary elections in that metropolis, citizens will soon be allowed to directly elect only 20 parliamentarians, compared to 35 in the past.
According to a politician concerned, the number of parliament seats will also be expanded from 70 to 90.
The Standing Committee of the Chinese Parliament unanimously decided to approve the plans. Then there was extensive applause, and politician Tam Yiu-chung told the South China Morning Post newspaper. President Xi Jinping has also approved the reforms, according to state media.
According to the newspaper, this is the most drastic and controversial reform of the electoral system in the metropolis since 1997. The United Kingdom handed over Hong Kong to the Communist People’s Republic in that year. It promised that the metropolis would receive autonomous status for another half-century.
The reforms are seen as a way to sideline the pro-democratic opposition in the city further. An electoral college, the Election Committee, will soon decide to whom 40 of the parliamentary seats will go that are not distributed through elections. That college is seen as pro-Beijing and also chooses the city’s top administrator.
The composition of the Election Committee will also be overhauled. According to Tam, there are now still 117 local Hong Kong politicians in that electoral college, but their seats will expire. These politicians are directly elected and often belong to the opposition camp.
Whoever wants to participate in elections must also undergo some inspection. A committee then checks whether candidates have the correct political views. Politician Tam says the state security department of the police is also involved. It will provide information about candidates.