The 2016 Legco election had a record-breaking turnout rate of 58 per cent. Though we should celebrate the public’s political engagement, we should also take this time to reflect upon whether the existing electoral system is fair.
This year, six pan-democrats withdrew from the race in order to increase votes for their allies. This is because despite the large number of votes in their favour, they had too many parties participating and it would have resulted in votes too dispersed out to win them seats. Back in February, the Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting launched “Thunder Go”, a plan in which there was also an attempt to co-ordinate ballots in order to maximise the number of seats for the pan-democratic camp. Pan-democratic parties often win fewer seats than expected, despite the large number of votes in their favour. Strategic voting strategies like this are difficult for the public to understand. From their point of view, it looks as if there is just a lot of debate and finger-pointing, and the political parties appear fragmented and unable to make compromises.
It has been suggested that a primary election among the pan-democratic parties should be held before they stand in Legco elections. This has been suggested by several politicians and commentators, like the leader of Civic Party, Audrey Eu Yuet-mee. However, this solution assumes that all the candidates hold similar political stances. Plus, even if the parties manage select representatives for the actual election, this doesn’t guarantee that the camp will win more seats.
A more efficient solution would be banning parties from fielding multiple lists in a constituency. By doing this, seats allocated to rich parties that can afford the expense of splitting into smaller divisions can be freed for newly established or independent candidates. It is essential to let the voices of all the parties be heard on a public platform not just the major ones.
As we moving closer to 2047, it is more important than ever before to have a fair and well-established electoral system that guarantees that the people’s voices are heard. We have to realise that just casting our votes is not enough if we truly want to be a democratic society.