Today, May 6, 2014, Occupy Central held its final deliberation day to select the proposals they will put on the ballot for the referendum they are holding on June 22 on establishing universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
Occupy Central is campaigning for universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election. The election in the past has been decided by a 2,000 person election committee. The 2017 election is expected to involve universal suffrage, but Occupy Central is concerned that the voting process will be fixed to favor the pro-Beijing candidate, so they decided to propose nomination and election procedures that adhere to international standards. If their proposal isn’t adopted, they plan to block the streets of downtown Hong Kong in protest.
Today, they deliberated over 15 proposals and 2,594 of their members voted. On June 22, they will include the three winning proposals in a referendum they are hosting that will be open to Hong Kong residents, and then they will demand the government adopt the winning proposal.
The three proposals that will be on the ballot are those of the student activist groups Scholarism and Federation of Students; the political party People Power; and the Alliance for True Democracy.
The proposals are similar on some key points: All three proposals include a pathway for civil nominations coming with the threshold set at 1% of registered voters for each proposal. All also include pathways for candidates to be nominated by nomination committee. In the past, the nominations have been made by the election committee, the same committee that votes for the chief executive, but the Students proposal and the People Power proposal seek to change the nomination committee to encompass only elected politicians. The Alliance For True Democracy proposal would keep the same nomination committee in place but would also include nomination by popular political parties. All proposals would include a two-round run-off system for the general election with a 50% threshold for victory.
UPDATE: Many Hong Kong people, including pan-democrats, are criticizing the poll for having three options all with civic nominations. I wrote about the controversy at ChinaHush. The critics say the vote is undemocratic in that it denies anyone much of a choice.
Mitchell Blatt is a travel writer, editor, and columnist who has lived and worked in China for six years. He is an author of two guidebooks, Panda Guides Hong Kong and Panda Guides China. He has been published in National Interest.org, The Korea Times, The Shanghai Daily, Roads & Kingdoms, Vagabond Journey, City Weekend, Silkwinds and The World of Chinese, among other outlets. See examples of his published articles.