By Gauri Naik
18 Dec 2021: On Sunday, Hong Kong has a legislative assembly election in which candidates are vetted for "patriotism," and pro-democracy candidates are mainly absent, either because they declined to run or because they have been arrested or forced into exile.
The reorganisation of the Legislative Council is the first major change to Hong Kong's political structure since the island was returned to China from British administration in 1997.
Why is the Election necessary?
This is the first citywide election to be held under a national security law imposed by China that took effect in June 2020. Critics claim that the law has been used to restrict fundamental freedoms of speech and assembly, muzzle opposition, imprison pro-democracy activists, and destroy civil rights organisations, all in violation of the handover agreement.
The law, according to Hong Kong and Chinese authorities, has restored stability and put a stop to the disturbance caused by large protests. Universal suffrage for the legislature is stated as a "ultimate goal" in Article 68 of Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law.
Beijing, on the other hand, claims that the amendments to voting law close "loopholes and weaknesses" that threatened national security following huge protests in 2019. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's leader, said that several former pro-democracy politicians were "anti-China disruptors" who caused havoc.
"National and political security are inextricably linked. Governance must be firmly kept in the hands of nationalists if true national security can be achieved "In April, she stated.
What are the major electoral changes?
The legislature has been expanded from 70 seats to 90, with the share of directly elected MPs lowered from half to less than a quarter - only 20 seats.
The Candidate Eligibility Review Committee, which is made up of senior Hong Kong officials who collaborate with national security police to undertake "patriotism" background checks on candidates, has the authority to disqualify anyone.
Critics say the reforms make it nearly difficult for democrats to win Sunday's legislative election in Hong Kong. https://www.reuters.com/world/china/hong-kongs-jailed-exiled-democrats-l ament-election-2021-12-16 to exert significant influence over or act as a check on the executive
What has become of Pro-Democracy Politicians?
The biggest opposition parties, such as the Democratic Party and the Civic Party, have declined to compete for office, claiming that the election is undemocratic.
A pro-Beijing commission examined all 153 candidates. About a dozen are seen as moderates or independents, claiming to be neutral on both sides, while the rest are seen as pro-Beijing and pro-establishment characters.
The pro-democracy parties had planned to run in the election, which had been scheduled for September 2020 but had been postponed owing to coronavirus limitations. They disregarded authorities by organising an unauthorised primary election in July 2020 in order to select the most qualified candidates and maximise their prospects.
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