Hong Kong Election Unlikely to Produce Clear Winner, Tien Says

Neither of the top two candidates running for Hong Kong chief executive may garner enough support to win the March 25 election outright, necessitating a fresh ballot, honorary Liberal Party chairman James Tien said.

The Liberal Party will probably cast blank votes because Henry Tang, the candidate it once backed, has become too unpopular after a series of scandals, Tien said in an interview today. A second vote would be necessary if neither Tang nor his main rival, Leung Chun-ying, gets an absolute majority in Hong Kong’s 1,200-member election committee.

“The contest between them is pretty much like a choice between two rotten apples,” Tien said. “The chances of an abortive election is getting more likely.”

Tang, who is Hong Kong’s former chief secretary and has the backing of some of the city’s richest men, has rejected calls to withdraw from the race amid controversy over illegal construction work at a family home and reports he fathered a child out of wedlock. He trails Leung by more than 33 percentage points in opinion polls.

The Liberal Party originally pledged its 60 votes to Tang. Now that his popularity has plunged, it will need to reconsider, Tien said.

“Our original choice was Henry because he used to be one of us and we feel that he’s knowledgeable about the commercial community but his popularity has dropped so much over the last couple months,” Tien said. “This is not universal suffrage but we still have to respect public opinion.”

Speaking to Bloomberg Television last week, Tang said his mistakes had all been personal, while Leung’s are public, and his rival is a “risky” choice because he lacks sufficient experience.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kelvin Wong in Hong Kong at kwong40@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

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