Hong Kong: Elections postponed – Beijing has to secure

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Worldwide over 100 election dates postponed

Opposition hoped for this year’s election

Talking to philosophers, psychologists and psychiatrists

At the July primaries: a long line at a polling station. image: Studio Incendo CC BY 4.0

Colonial-era emergency law postpones the elections by one year. Germany follows Great Britain, Australia and the USA and terminates the extradition agreement

The general election in Hong Kong was postponed from September 6 this year to September 5 next year. This announced Hong Kong’s city government on Friday. The federal government reacts hours later. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced on Friday eveningto suspend the extradition agreement with Hong Kong. “We have repeatedly clarified our expectation that China will comply with its obligations under international law. This includes the right to free and fair elections to which the people of Hong Kong are entitled.” This is up to the people of Hong Kong. “

Germany thus joins the USA, Canada and Great Britain, which recently suspended the extradition agreement with Hong Kong due to the introduction of the National Security Act. This will keep Beijing’s critics abroad from being extradited to China by the National Security Act provides.

However, the postponement of parliamentary elections is itself legitimate. The city government relies on an almost 100 year old Emergency Ordinance from the British colonial period. This regulation was first adopted in 1922 in response to a wage strike by Chinese seafarers that paralyzed the port. The law empowers the city’s prime minister to “develop any policy that is” desirable in the public interest “in an” emergency or danger to the public. ” This includes censoring publications, controlling transportation and seizing property, and arresting, detaining and deporting individuals.

The Emergency Ordinance was used last year to ban demonstrators from wearing face masks. The pandemic reversed this. Critics say the city government is using health concerns as an excuse to postpone elections and steal momentum from the pro-democratic opposition.

“The announcement I have to make today is the most difficult I have had to make in the past seven months,” said Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam at a press conference on Friday. “Postponing the election is a really difficult decision, but we want to ensure public safety and health and ensure that the elections are conducted openly and impartially.”

The health of millions of voters is taking precedence, and another outbreak threatens to overwhelm the city’s public health system. In addition, some citizens of Hong Kong were stranded in mainland China and abroad due to travel restrictions, making it “impossible” for them to return home to vote. The Chinese media support Lam’s decision in unison. This is a “responsible step to protect the health and safety of citizens.”

They should New infections have increased by 1,852 since the beginning of July – an increase of 140 percent compared to the first six months – but overall, Hong Kong has so far got off lightly: almost 3,300 infections have been reported since the outbreak of the pandemic. So far, 27 people have died of Covid-19 in the city with 7.5 million inhabitants. Almost ten percent of the population have already been tested. Reason enough for the city government to postpone the elections? Elections were held this year in South Korea, where there were more deaths per 100,000 population and in Singapore, where there were 22 times more infections per 100,000 population. As in ten other countries.

Worldwide, over a hundred election dates have been postponed this year due to the pandemic: the nonprofit International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) currently has 63 countrieswho postponed local, state, parliamentary or presidential elections for the benefit of public health, a total of 109 election dates, a large part of which were in March, April and May, at the height of the pandemic. Hong Kong is now added.

Pro-democratic opponents suspect that the city government is less concerned with public health than with restricting pro-democratic forces. A clear sign of this was the exclusion of twelve candidates from the pro-democratic movement from the parliamentary elections announced on Thursday. The activists had hoped to the end that they could benefit from the current mood in Hong Kong. Not without reason: the area code for determining the opposition candidates in mid-July this year achieved a record participation of more than 600,000 votes.

The Prospect of a majority Parliament was also bigger than ever this year. In the election to the legislative council, Hong Kong citizens can only vote on the allocation of half of the 70 seats. 30 more seats are occupied by mostly pro-Chinese representatives from professional associations. The district councils are responsible for occupying a further five seats. The majority of these have been pro-democratic since the district elections. The pro-democratic opposition then won 344 of the 452 seats in the district councils, while the pro-Chinese camp lost the majority in 17 of the 18 districts.

In contrast, the situation in Hong Kong could be very different in a year. An editorial from the pro-Chinese newspaper According to The Standard There is hope for the Beijing-loyal camp that enough people who would vote for the opposition have emigrated to Great Britain within 12 months.

But there are still legal ambiguities. The elections must, according to Basic Law within 14 days take place after the original date. Without a decision, the legislature has no right to govern beyond the current legislative period. Chief Executive Lam announced that China’s top legislative body would have to step in to resolve all legal issues, the city said Preserve constitutional crisis. The official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday that China’s top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC), would meet again in Beijing from August 8-11 to discuss a number of laws. So far, no item on the Hong Kong agenda is on the agenda.
(Bulgan Molor-Erdene)

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