Hong Kong Elections: Transition to Autonomy
The features of the electoral system of Hong Kong under Chinese governance will be products of a network of newly established committees, elected and selected legislatures, and election precedents from the 1991 and 1995 events. This transition is occurring in parallel with an initiative by the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) to establish an association of election officials in the Asian region. On April 28 - April 30, a Working Advisory Group in Manila drafted a charter proposal for the establishment of an Association of Asian Election Authorities. This Working Advisory Group was mandated by the participants of a January 1997 conference of Asian election officials and was composed of representatives from Australia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. In order to both inform the election authorities in Hong Kong about this initiative (Hong Kong representatives had been present at the January conference) and ascertain if the Association or its Secretariat (IFES) could play a useful and constructive role in the transition of the Hong Kong electoral system, a two-day assessment was conducted on May 1 - 2, 1997.
For the Hong Kong-based assessment, consultations were held with transitional government authorities, an opposition political party, and a non-governmental organization (Attachment I, page 17). Generally speaking, there was a divergence of opinion from those interviewed about the usefulness of Hong Kong's involvement in the Association or its Secretariat. Viewpoints ranged from a request for the Secretariat to be an advisor to the Preparatory Committee on drafting the election law to no interest whatsoever in any Secretariat involvement.
This paper is a report on those consultations as described by the following components: 1) the institutions involved with the election process; 2) the issues currently under debate; and 3) the potential avenues of participation by the Secretariat in the transitional election process.