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Hong Kong opposition to hold unofficial primary for September elections


Hong Kong opposition to hold unofficial primary for September elections

HK opposition holds unofficial primaries
Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp is scheduled to hold an unofficial primary today to select candidates for Legislative Council elections in September.

The primary is part of the opposition’s “35-plus” campaign that seeks to achieve an absolute majority in the legislature, a daunting prospect given that they would need a net gain of 14 seats. However, their landslide victory in District Council elections in November could provide a road map for such a takeover. Their intent is to block the budget proposal of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Two vetoes of the budget would trigger a mandatory resignation of the executive as mandated by the Basic Law, paralysing the local government.

Hong Kong’s Minister of Constitutional Affairs, Erick Tsang, has warned that the primary and its campaign could run afoul of the new national security law, especially Article 22, which prohibits actions that hinder the functions of local government. On Friday, police raided the offices of independent pollsters associated with the primary election over a supposedly unrelated matter, although the timing of the raid makes this unlikely.

The primary will likely go forward to maintain the illusion of Hong Kong’s autonomy from Beijing. But should the opposition win an absolute majority in September, expect China to employ any tactics necessary to ensure pro-Beijing forces to maintain their majority.

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