The government made proposals to change the methods to select the chief executive and to the legislative counselors in 2012. They are essentially the same as the proposals rejected in 2007 and obviously unacceptable to the majority of citizens in Hong Kong. They were heading for defeat.
A counter proposal was then made by some from the “pan-democrat” side to allow practically all voters (estimated at 3.2 million, out of a possible 3.4 million) to elect the 5 new seats representing the district councils. Many people seem to think it makes the government’s original proposal more democratic, and consider it acceptable.
The government was initially opposed to the counter proposal. In the last few days, however, the government turned around dramatically, and accepted the counter-proposal. Now it is the more extreme factions of the pan-democrats who are opposed. Because they feel the counter-proposal is not democratic enough, and may even make the future abolition of functional constituencies more difficult.
As indicated by this SCMP graphics, acceptance of the counter proposal still leaves the resultant legislature highly unbalanced. 30 out of 70 seats will still be chosen by a very small group of people with special privileges. There are some seats with only 100 or so “voters”.
Is it a step forward then? I think so, and so do a lot of people. It is certainly slightly more democratic than the current situation, and the original government proposal. It is not ideal, but both sides have made some compromises. It gives us some hope that future steps will gradually make our political system more democratic and fairer.
Surely there are still many people who disagree. It is important that we respect each other, and present our views in a civilized, non-violent manner. If we do not respect other people’s views, we do not deserve democracy.