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Hong Kong: Legco Election, What a surprise!

The result of this year's Legislative Council Election in Hong Kong is a surprise to many people. As the pan-democrats failed to coordinate their supporters and competed with each others for their votes, most of the mainstream media predicted that the pan-dem alliance would not get more than 50% seat in the district election and would probably failed to become a significant minority (one third of the Legco seats) for voting down the government's political reform proposal concerning the universal suffrage arrangement.

Moreover, the pre-election polls were not very favorable to the pan democrats. As a result, when the voters turnout rate dropped from 55% (in 2004) to 45% this year, even the pan-democrats had lost their confidence. The vice president of Democracy Party, Sin Chung-kai, told the mainstream media a very sober picture at the end of the voting day (around mid-night of Sept 7) that the pan-dem might get less than 15 seats in the district election.

On the next day, most of the mainstream media predicted a setback for pan-democrats in the election. However, it turned out that the pan-dem candidates have almost maximized their seats in the district election. Want to know why?

First of all, public opinion polls have many flaws as indicated in the past. Roland had written a review of 2004 polling results before the election on 28 of Aug. The poll had a 22-29% shortfall error, especially for the pro-establishment party, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB).

Here is Roland's explanation:

Why are the HKU POP poll numbers so wrong for the DAB? This is a matter of conjecture. One explanation that is often given is that the DAB supporters are not included in sampling frame (i.e. they do not have telephones) or else they hide their opinions when interviewed. My preferred explanation is that the DAB has a superior GOTV (Get Out The Vote) effort. According to the public opinion polls, about 90% of the people said that they will vote. In reality, just over 55% voted. The DAB is simply better able to get their supporters to vote because they have more manpower and resources (as in reminder phone calls, personal visits, etc). Therefore, the DAB end up with a higher share of the actual votes than the polls would indicate.

So according to Roland's analysis and past experience, the polls should have underestimated DAB's potential and the picture for pan-democrats should be more gloomy. However, one week before the voting day, the election committee issued a message to the Hong Kong University survey center, warned that they shouldn't in any case publish the polling result to the public, or else they would violate the election regulation.

At the same time, Hong Kong University survey center is among one of the most professional bodies for election poll even though the survey was sponsored by a pro-dem media group.

Alone in the fart pointed out that Hong Kong University only had 178 interviewers near the election stations, while there were some pro-establishment, unprofessional survey organizations mobilizing 1,990 interviewers for collecting exit data. And they are not responsible to the public:

香港政策研究所 (Hong Kong Policy Research Institute Limited) 由葉國華主理,香港青年協進會 (Hong Kong Youths Unified Association) 自稱「在中央人民政府駐港聯絡辦、民政事務局等各政府部門、各友好團體及社會知名人士支持指導下,會務得以持續發展」,公共事務研究學會 (Public Affairs Research Society) 與香港社會及經濟研究所 (Hong Kong Social and Economic Research Centre) 面目模糊,既不是獲稅務局豁免繳稅的團體,網頁也沒有一個。他們這麼人強馬壯,背後必有金主支持,可是如果他們是商營研究社的話,沒理由連網頁都沒有,加上他們和香港青年協進會的選址巧妙地沒有重疊,這些機構的背景為何,實在呼之欲出。如果要擔心鍾庭耀推動的兩隊人(共 178 人)偏幫某些黨派的話,是否應更擔心上述四個機構(共派出 1990 人)的動向?

Hong Kong Policy Research Institute Limited is headed by Yip Kwok Wah (translator notes: a consultant for Chinese authority in Hong Kong). Hong Kong Youths Unified Association claimed that the organization “is sustained by the support of the Liaison office of the Central people's government in Hong Kong, SAR, Home Affair Bureau, etc”. Public Affairs Research Society and Hong Kong Social and Economic Research Centre are not registered as tax exempted organizations, they don't have a public face, not even a single website. It is quite obvious that they have finance support for organizing such a huge number of interviewers. However, if they were commercial survey organizations, it is hard to believe that they don't have any website. It is not difficult to guess their background. If we are to worry about the 178 interviewer team leaded by Robert Chung (head of Hong Kong University survey center) for helping certain political parties, shouldn't we be more worried about the above 4 organizations which have a team of 1,990 interviewers?

As a result of the above survey dispute, Dar Fung from the facebook created a group: Tell the pollster: “I voted for DAB!”

今屆立法會選舉﹐親建制派陣營要錢有錢要人有人﹐佢地可以晌好多票站門口搞「民意調查」。既然exit poll的作用是協助調整選舉策略,exit poll就是競選活動的一部份,就要計入選舉開支。但現時大規模做exit poll的機構都是蓋住招牌的左派組織,以「學術研究」為名獲取最新投票形勢,臨場調動人馬(在講求配票平均的比例代表制,掌握最新選票分佈就更形關鍵),卻佯裝「獨立」,用意就是劃清界線,瞞報選舉開支。

真正的「不公平不公道」,就是有人隱瞞選舉開支,政府又拿不出措施杜絕有人將exit poll私用,咁擺明係默許親建制派屈機啦﹗所以各位朋友晌九月七日投票後如果有人搵你做exit-poll﹐無論你投邊個都好﹐記住要話﹕「我投左俾民建聯﹗」

In this year's election, the pro-establishment has the money and has the labour. They have so many people standing outside the election stations for conducting “public opinion survey”. As the main purpose of exit poll is to coordinate votes, exit poll should be considered as part of the election campaign, it should be counted in the election budget. However, at present, most of the exit poll organizations are in fact covered up left wing pro-establishment groups. They pretend to be academic organizations for getting the latest data about the election, so that they can mobilize their votes (in the existing election system, such coordination is the key to success). They pretend to be independent, so that they don't need to register the expense.

The real “unfair and unjust” story here is that someone try to cover up their election expense while the government fails to stop the private use of exit poll. As a result, the pro-establishment can abuse the system! So, our friends, when someone asks you to do exit poll in the election day, no matter who you are voting for, please say “I voted for DAB!”

There are around 20,000 members joining the group, and the members have spread the words around in all major forums. Judging from the huge error in the exit poll and mainstream media report, the campaign has great success.

Apart from “I voted for DAB!” campaign, netizens’ support for the League of Socialist Democrats (LSD) is believed to be a major factor for the success of this minority political group. The political group is loosely organized and poor, however, they managed to get 3 seats out of their 5 election candidates.

Kursk's has some observations concerning the success of LSD in relation to their internet mobilization:

# 以前選舉論壇是沒有人理會的,現在有了youtube,只要某一段內容夠「爆」,便會出現幾何級數的效果。
# 網絡動員的效果真的不容忽視,真的,我是說真的。這批泛民死亡軍團,有不少真的是由internet動員出來的。這是由當年鍾亦天事件開始,又或者可能由myradio冒起開始。
# 另外,希望有學者做一個像樣的調查,告訴我們年青選民的投票率、政治傾向。根據網上觀察,網民似乎大都支持社民連。

# in the past, no one cares about election forums, now with youtube, if there are some explosive content, the hit rate jumps.
# we shouldn't ignore internet mobilization, i really mean it. The pan-dem die hard supporters are mobilized from the internet. In my opinion, it is related to the edison sexphoto scandal mobilization, or the popularity of myradio (internet radio).
# i hope academics can have some good survey about young voters concerning their voting rate, political attribution. From my observation, most netizens support LSD.

Singsit is very proud that LSD and pan-dem had such a beautiful fight in Eastern New Territories. Both his wife and himself have voted for Long Hair. In the end, the pro-establishment got two seats while the pan-dem got 5 seats. The blogger posted a most popular post-election youtube, in which long hair challenged the DAB: after spending millions of dollars and all you get is two seats, it's time for you to sleep!

Even though the pan dem has great success, hegelchong feels that they have to take the lesson and develop their “iron vote” through neighborhood network.

你可以說,建制派的鐵票支持了保守親政府的政治路線,但是,強大的鄰里-社會關係與組織本身不是壞事,民主派在香港活了二十至三十年,他們的選民有沒有這種鄰里及社會組織關係?地區工作都化成了甚麼?是否有社區層面的民主運動?每次選舉,民主派都喊說欠缺義工助選,這不是已說明問題嗎?

You can criticize that the pro-establishment's iron votes are the base of conservative political line in Hong Kong, however, strong neighbor organization is not a bad thing. The pan democratic movement has been active in Hong Kong for 20-30 years, however, it seems that their voters don't have such kind of neighborhood and social network. What happens to their district community work? Have they developed a community based democracy movement? Whenever the election comes, the pan-dem would yell around for volunteers, doesn't it tell us something?

4 comments

  • Awesome post, Oiwan! Huge victory for liberal Chinese netizens yesterday.

    So is the answer to hegelchong’s question that bloggers would need to start getting more active in their meatspace communities if they are serious about creating lasting change?

  • i think his question is not addressing to bloggers but to the pan-dem politicians who are supposed to have very strong district community support because of their 20-30 service in the community.

    as for bloggers and other online activists, i think they are learning how to be smart mob. actually apart from this election mobilization, another mobilization took place in mongkok some weeks ago concerning public space issue… the experience is accumulating.

  • ka

    surprise???

    Few weeks ago , someone predicted and explained why LSD would be success in the election
    and what would LSD criticize Civic Party in election forums . It came true.

    On election day, he/ she told me xx SURE WIN .

    some voters who support LSD don’t like some Pro-democracy parties due to edison sexphoto scandal event and he/ she used a adjective “x” to sum up their bad feeling on those parties XDDDD

  • […] save’, as I learned today. It was the Long Hair’s final jab at the DAB as he grabbed his flowers and walked off-stage on election […]

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