The Housing Boom and the Rise of Localism in Hong Kong: Evidence from the Legislative Council Election in 2016
10 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 18, 2019
Localist parties have become an emerging force in Hong Kong’s political landscape. What has caused the rise of localism in the city? Extant studies focus on cultural and social factors. In this article, we propose a political economy explanation: global and regional economic factors have caused a housing boom in Hong Kong since the mid-2000s and produced impactful redistributive consequences. While homeowners benefit tremendously from the hike in asset prices, non-homeowners stand to lose. Their divergent economic interests then translate into political preferences; homeowners support political parties that favour the status quo, while non-homeowners tend to support those that challenge it. Using a newly available public opinion survey, we find preliminary evidence in support of our argument. In particular, homeowners are less likely to identify with localist parties and tend to vote for pro-establishment ones. High-income earners, however, are more likely to vote for localist parties.
Keywords: localism, wealth inequality, home ownership, Hong Kong elections, political identification, vote choice
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