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Hong Kong Democrats Fail To Cash In On Discontent With Leung

Paying the price of multiple lists, the pro-democracy forces miss an opportunity to cash in on discontents.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 9/11/2012, 5:05 AM

Vote count
Vote count
Reuters

Pro-democracy parties in Hong Kong have expressed disappointment over the result of yesterday's election, especially since they feel that they have only themselves to blame. Although they took 21 out of the 40 seats that were elected by both popular district elections and 3 citywide seats (30 other seats are chosen on a corporative basis controlled by business leaders with a hand in glove relationship with Beijing) ,they felt that they could have done even better had they not splintered. Disunity opened the doors for the better organized and better financed Beijing-backed candidates.

The pro-democracy parties had hoped to cash in on the unpopularity of Hong Kong's chief executive C. Y. Leung. Longtime residents of the city are chafing at skyrocketing housing prices boosted by mainlanders, as well as a run on Hong Kong's superior services, such as hospitals.

Most recently, a heavy-handed attempt was made at introducing "moral and national education" that among other things, criticizes multiparty democracy and glosses over some of the unsavory chapters in the history of the People's Republic of China. The chief executive was forced to back down on this project following demonstrations and a hunger strike.

Under the agreement in which Britain relinquished Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong was permitted to retain greater democracy than the one-party rule that prevails in mainland China. The presumed success of the system features prominently in an attempt to woo Taiwan into reunifying with the People's Republic of China. Taiwan would be granted autonomy and the maintenance of a two-party system. Therefore, an attempt to crush the demonstrations in Hong Kong would have sabotaged overtures towards Taiwan.

Additionally, this is a time that Beijing would like to keep things calm as it attempts to complete its once-in-a-decade transfer of power to a younger generation. This year, the transfer is encountering greater difficulties due to recent scandals involving party higher ups, as well as the hiccups that China's roaring economy is currently experiencing.