Legalizing Politics: An Evaluation of Hong Kong's Recent Attempt at Democratization
(2017) 16(2) Election Law Journal 296-305
16 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2018 Last revised: 6 Mar 2018
Date Written: May 30, 2017
In 1997, China resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong, promising in the latter’s mini-constitution the eventual election of its top executive post and legislature by universal suffrage. Yet, two decades on, Hong Kong’s election system is still a long way from meeting that promise. The sluggish pace of democratic reform prompted the 2014 Umbrella Movement and has even spawned calls for the territory’s independence. This article evaluates Hong Kong’s 2014–2015 attempt at democratic reform. It will make two main points. First, while the reform package proposed in that period would have widened the franchise for the chief executive (CE) election, its acceptance would have made it harder for Hong Kong to negotiate for a genuinely equal and universal system in the future. Hence, it was right for the legislature to veto it. Second, the Hong Kong government, being a key institutional player, should have, but failed to, fully utilize the constitutional space available to it for reform.
Keywords: Hong Kong, China, Universal Suffrage, Democratization, Hegemonic Election, Umbrella Movement
JEL Classification: K19, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation