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Matthew Brooker

Hong Kong’s Non-Election Is Momentous and Meaningless

Devoid of genuine debate or competition, this poll is a warning sign pointing to the lack of genuine democracy the financial capital can expect in future.

The vote was hardly a genuine contest.

The vote was hardly a genuine contest.

Photographer: Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg

Hong Kong has had its first taste of the remodeled electoral system that China designed for the city. As an exercise in competitive politics, Sunday’s vote had all the suspense and spontaneity of a Soviet military parade, though with fewer people. All the same, Beijing has reason to be satisfied with the outcome.

The ballot was to fill about a quarter of the seats on the so-called Election Committee that will choose the city’s next chief executive and appoint a chunk of the legislature. About 4,900 voters were eligible to take part. Beijing shrank the electorate by about 97% due to the inconvenient tendency of Hong Kong people to vote for pro-democracy candidates. More than three-quarters of the seats open to election were filled uncontested after the number of nominations matched the number of places available, a sign that the important decisions had already been made behind closed doors.