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Things you need to know about HKSAR’s LegCo election

A giant Legislative Council election poster is seen in the Central district, Hong Kong, Dec 15, 2021. (CALVIN NG/CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will hold the Legislative Council election on Dec 19, the first since the improvement to its electoral system.

More than 600 polling stations will be open across Hong Kong on the polling day for about 4.5 million registered electors to cast their votes.

The following are the things you need to know about the key election.

What is LegCo?

The political structure of the HKSAR is set out in Chapter IV of the Basic Law of the HKSAR and it lays down an executive-led system headed by the chief executive of the HKSAR. The Basic Law further allocates the powers and functions among the three branches: the executive authorities, the legislature, and the judiciary.

They complement each other with the common goal of upholding national unity and territorial integrity, and maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. Their powers emanate from the central authorities.

The main powers and functions of the LegCo include: to enact, amend or repeal laws; to examine and approve budgets, taxation, and public expenditure; and to raise questions on the work of the HKSAR government.

Aerial photo taken on March 6, 2021 shows citizens displaying China's national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in support of implementing the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong" at Tamar Park in Hong Kong. (LI GANG / XINHUA)

How is the 2021 election different?

The election for members of the HKSAR's seventh-term LegCo, originally scheduled for Sept 6, 2020, has been postponed for over a year due to COVID-19, and it will be the first since improvement was made to the HKSAR electoral system by China's top legislature.

On March 30, 2021, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress adopted the amended Annex II to the Basic Law of the HKSAR, which sets out in detail the new methods for forming the LegCo to better implement the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong."

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The membership of the seventh term of the HKSAR LegCo will increase from 70 to 90 and the members are to be elected by the Election Committee constituency (40 seats), functional constituencies (30 seats), and geographical constituencies (20 seats), respectively.

HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor speaks during the Chief Executive's Question and Answer Session at the LegCo on Feb 4,2021. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)

Why is the LegCo election important?

Hong Kong has been plagued by entrenched problems ranging from housing shortage to a wide wealth gap, and young people long for more opportunities. Political distractions over the past years have left such issues unsolved for too long, because in the past, elections in Hong Kong always descended into chaos and were used by external anti-China forces to endanger national security and undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability.

Improving the electoral system of the HKSAR has plugged the institutional loophole for those anti-China elements to take advantage of elections to enter the governance structure of the HKSAR

Improving the electoral system of the HKSAR has plugged the institutional loophole for those anti-China elements to take advantage of elections to enter the governance structure of the HKSAR. So far, social responses regarding the upcoming LegCo election have fully demonstrated the characteristics of broad representation, political inclusiveness, balanced participation, and fair competition.

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The LegCo election is expected to produce new faces and create a new atmosphere, which is of great significance to the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong" and to the steady and sustained implementation of "one country, two systems."

This March 12, 2021 photo shows the exterior of the headquarters of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and the Legislative Council in Hong Kong. (LI GANG / XINHUA)

Who are the candidates?

A total of 153 candidates have been validly nominated for the election. They include elites from the business, academic and professional sectors, as well as representatives of laborers, employees and small- and medium-sized businesses at the grassroot level. There are also experienced veterans in politics as well as young people.

About half of them are first-time candidates for public office. They will compete for 90 seats, and all the seats are contested and no one can be automatically elected, which is unprecedented since the return of Hong Kong to the motherland in 1997.

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In the Election Committee constituency, 51 candidates are vying for 40 seats; in the functional constituencies, 67 candidates are contesting for 30 seats; and in the geographical constituencies, 35 candidates are competing for 20 seats.

When will HKSAR’s 7th-term LegCo begin?

The Chief Executive in Council, in accordance with the Legislative Council Ordinance, has specified Jan 1, 2022 as the commencement date of the seventh-term LegCo of the HKSAR.

In addition, under the ordinance, the chief executive of the HKSAR has specified Jan 12, 2022 as the date on which the 2022 legislative session is to begin, and 11 am local time of Jan 12, 2022 as the time for holding the first meeting of the seventh LegCo.

The term of office of the LegCo is four years.