Over 60% pro-democracy voters in Hong Kong likely to cast blank ballots: Apple Daily survey

Published (HKT): 2021.04.15 00:01

One-third of Hong Kong voters say they are likely to cast blank or spoiled ballots in response to the government’s electoral overhaul, with the figure being even higher among pro-democracy voters, according to a poll commissioned by Apple Daily.

In a survey of 1,011 adult Hong Kong residents who speak Cantonese, 61% of respondents who previously voted for pro-democracy candidates said there was a “high chance” of them casting blank votes in the next election. Only 11% of pro-establishment voters said they would cast blank ballots, while the figure was 21% among centrists and those who did not declare their political affiliation.

Overall, 33% of those surveyed said there was a high chance of them casting blank votes, while 48% said the chance was low. The survey was conducted by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute between April 7 and 9.

Beijing last month announced a sweeping reform to Hong Kong’s electoral system. The local government is expected to rush the changes through the legislature in the summer.

Asked whether they were inclined to vote after the electoral reform, 42% of respondents answered affirmatively, while 40% answered negatively. Among pro-democracy voters, 58% said they were not likely to vote in future elections.

Pro-democracy voters will choose to cast blank votes because they feel elections are meaningless after the recent overhaul, said Chung Kim-wah, the deputy chief executive of the institute behind the survey.

“Those in the pan-democratic camp are protesting a twisted electoral system,” Chung said. “They no longer have hope that the elections can generate the results they seek, and they cast blank votes as an expression of intense dissatisfaction or disgust.”

The Hong Kong government on Tuesday announced a proposal that would make it a crime to urge others to cast blank or spoiled ballots. Offenders could be punished with up to three years in prison.

Chung questioned whether this move by the government was politically motivated.

Meanwhile, the government’s bill implementing Beijing’s electoral blueprint received its first and second readings at the Legislative Council on Wednesday. The bill was “constitutional, lawful, and had strong justifications,” said Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang.

“It provides a sound foundation to ensure Hong Kong’s system for patriots administering Hong Kong, and will bring the implementation of ‘one country, two systems’ back on the right track,” Tsang said.

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