What you need to know about Hong Kong's Legislative Council or Legco election

Supporters of Hong Kong independence gather outside the government headquarters and Legislative Council to listen to speeches by election candidates on Aug 28, 2016.
Supporters of Hong Kong independence gather outside the government headquarters and Legislative Council to listen to speeches by election candidates on Aug 28, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

On Sunday (Sept 4), 3.7 million Hong Kongers will cast their ballots to vote for their legislators in the Parliament or Legislative Council (Legco).

It will be the first major electoral vote since students camped out on the streets of downtown Central district almost two years ago to push for greater democracy.

A total of 213 candidates are competing for 35 seats in five geographical constituencies.

ROLE OF LEGCO

- Its key roles are to enact, amend or repeal laws, examine and approve budgets, taxation and public expenditure; and raise questions on the work of the government. Any motion must be passed by a majority of each bloc voting separately.

- It has the power to endorse the appointment and removal of the judges of the Court of Final Appeal and the Chief Judge of the High Court, as well as the power to impeach the Chief Executive.

- At least 47 votes - a two-third majority - are needed to pass any political reform that requires constitutional change.

- Any constitutional change can be vetoed by a one-third vote. In the last Legco polls in 2012, pan-democrats won 27 of the 70 seats to retain veto power.

COMPOSITION OF LEGCO

 

- The 70 seats are equally divided into two blocs - geographical and functional constituencies.

- Thirty-five lawmakers represent the city's five geographical constituencies - Hong Kong Island, Kowloon East, Kowloon West, New Territories East and New Territories West. Eligible voters totalling 3.7 million will each cast one vote in the constituency they live in.

- The other 35 seats are allocated to occupation-based "functional constituencies". Of these, 30 seats are elected by designated persons and corporations - 233,000 voters this time around.

- The other five functional constituency seats, known as "Super Seats", are elected by eligible voters, excluding the 233,000 designated voters. The contenders for these seats must be nominated by about 400 elected members of the city's 18 district councils.

HOW THIS ELECTION DIFFERS FROM THAT IN 2012

- There is a record high number of young candidates in the race. Seventeen are aged 35 and below, compared to three in 2012. This is an indication of how Hong Kong's political landscape has shifted since the 10-week street occupation in 2014 demanding greater democracy for the city.

- Many of these candidates and their parties are known as "localists", a new term referring to those who want to protect Hong Kong's autonomy and its culture and identity.

- Candidates are relying heavily on social media, such as Facebook and messaging apps - to reach out to more voters, volunteers and donors, say observers.