Hong Kong police control access to a street in the central Mongkok district during protests in response to China’s National Security Law.
Hong Kong holds elections for the city’s legislature on Sunday – the first for the Legislative Council since the central government in Beijing led an overhaul of the electoral process in Hong Kong This year.
An analyst who spoke to CNBC predicted less interest in the polls this time around, as these electoral changes “narrowed” voters’ choices. The amendments that were introduced as part of the electoral overhaul mean there will be fewer directly elected representatives and more officials endorsed by Beijing.
Kurt Tong, partner of The Asia Group, expects turnout to be “rather low”.
âReally, the choices are quite limited for voters and therefore I would expect voter turnout to be rather low,â he told CNBC’s âSquawk Box Asiaâ on Friday.
âThe character of the election has changed significantly from five years ago, when there was a real sense that the election of the Legislative Council could have a major impact on the direction of city governance. And that just doesn’t seem to be the case. now, âTong added.
In the new electoral system, the total number of legislative seats has increased from 70 to 90. But the number of directly elected representatives has decreased.
Previously, half of the Council’s representatives were directly elected by ordinary Hong Kongers. Under the new rules, about a fifth of them will be.
A Election Commission who previously held only limited powers will now hand-select almost half of the Council’s representatives, and filter anyone who wants to show up for other seats.
Henry Tang, a member of the standing committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, told CNBC on Friday that the electoral changes are a step forward for democracy. The CPPCC is China’s main political advisory body.
He was responding to a question of whether Hong Kong has lost some autonomy, with the decrease in the number of directly elected seats.
“I would say that democratic progress in Hong Kong has taken one step further,” the former chief secretary of the Hong Kong administration told Street Signs Asia on Friday. “Because first of all, we have 90 members of the Legislative Council, instead of the previous 70. The membership has changed because we want more diversity and more inclusiveness.”
Tang, who was also the former financial secretary of Hong Kong, explained that the candidates include individuals from “a lot of different backgrounds.”
– CNBC’s Ted Kemp contributed to this report.