Stacking the deck against pro-democrats apparently wasn’t enough for the Hong Kong government.
Since the pro-democrats’ landslide victory in the 2019 district council elections, Hong Kong watchers have been looking toward the 2020 elections for the Legislative Council (LegCo), Hong Kong’s legislature. Could the pro-democrats, for the first time, win a majority in the LegCo?
We won’t be finding out the answer anytime soon. On Friday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that the elections – originally scheduled for September 6 — will not happen this year.
Citing the resurgence of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, Lam said that the elections would be postponed until September 5, 2021. “If we continue with our election, millions of voters will be visiting polling stations on the same day. The risk of infection would be very high,” Lam argued.
Hong Kong has to date announced 3,273 cases of COVID-19, with 27 deaths. Case counts began surging in July, going from an average of 5.85 cases per day in June to 66.7 in July – and an average of 125.3 cases per day over the 10 days preceding Lam’s announcement.
Even given the pandemic context, the election delay was an unprecedented announcement. It cannot be divorced from the political context of a new National Security Law, passed by fiat from Beijing, that has already severely restricted political activism in Hong Kong.