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Macau to 're-elect' leader as democracy referendum stifled by pro-China government

Published on Aug 29, 2014 2:28 PM
 
Fernando Chui speaks after being sworn in as Macau's Chief Executive in Macau, on the day marking the 10th anniversary of the former Portuguese enclave's handover to Chinese rule, in this Dec 20, 2009, file photo. Mr Chui is widely expected to be "re-elected" on Sunday after the pro-China government stifled an unofficial referendum on democracy, taking a much harder line on the gambling hub than leaders have in neighbouring Hong Kong. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui is widely expected to be "re-elected" on Sunday after the pro-China government stifled an unofficial referendum on democracy, taking a much harder line on the gambling hub than leaders have in neighbouring Hong Kong.

The election in the tiny but wealthy former Portuguese-run enclave, by a select panel of 400 largely pro-China loyalists with Mr Chui the only candidate, echoes the struggle in Hong Kong, where activists have been pushing for universal suffrage since China reclaimed the British colony in 1997.

Both territories are now special administrative regions of China, enjoying wide-ranging freedoms unavailable on the mainland, but presenting Communist Party leaders in Beijing with a headache as calls for democracy grow. China is terrified those calls will spread to mainland cities, threatening the party's grip on power.

Dr Eric Sautede, a former professor of politics at Macau's University of Saint Joseph who was sacked for expressing his political views, said Beijing could crack down more easily in Macau than in Hong Kong because of the "limited grassroots push". "None of the people in charge in Macau ever praised democratic values," he said. "They only praise consultation, scientific governance and harmony."

 
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