Realising Universal Suffrage in Hong Kong after the Standing Committee's Decision
(2014) 44 Hong Kong Law Journal 689-708 [contact author for a copy]
14 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2014 Last revised: 20 Apr 2015
Date Written: October 1, 2014
Of all the preconditions to realising universal suffrage of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in 2017, the most challenging is getting two-thirds of the 70 legislators to agree on a reform proposal. On 31 August 2014, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress made this challenge even more difficult by imposing restrictive and controlling conditions on the nomination process. The decision sparked unprecedented protests and acts of civil disobedience on the streets of Hong Kong in September and October 2014. Legislators have until the middle of 2015 to determine whether they can agree with the central and local governments on a single reform proposal. This paper assesses the arguments for and against reform, within the constraints of the Standing Committee’s decision. It argues in favour of reform so long as there are sufficient reassurances and measures to regain the trust of the Hong Kong people. The complete reform proposal will need to have sufficient safeguards and counter-balances to ensure that the central government does not control both the nomination and election results. All stakeholders need to take positive steps to make for more favourable reform conditions.
Keywords: political reform, Hong Kong, universal suffrage, Chief Executive, constitutional reform
JEL Classification: K10, P16, D72, P26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation