Democrats claim new boundaries disadvantage their electoral chances in DC elections

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As the District Council Ordinary Election is taking place next year, the Electoral Affairs Commission this week proposed the revised boundaries of the District Council constituencies, adding 21 new seats and adjusting 128 existing constituency areas.

Pro-democracy political parties are crying foul, claiming the process is unfair and outright gerrymandering to disadvantage them. The Commission says the adjustments are based on population change rather than political considerations.

The Commission argues its proposal is based on population quotas arrived at by dividing the total population of Hong Kong by the total number of elected members to be returned in the election.

Rezoning may change political landscape

Out of the 128 constituency areas affected, 77 of them are represented by councilors from a political party.

Local media HK01 has compared the number of councilors affected and the total number of councilors within a party, and found that pro-democracy Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL) and Neo Democrats are the two most affected parties – 46.2 percent and 41.7 percent of their councilors see the boundaries of their constituencies revised.

Pro-establishment parties Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA), Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) as well as Roundtable are also among the five most affected parties in this rezoning plan.

Two seats on the outlying island Cheung Chau, which are held by pro-Beijing councilors, will be combined into one, meaning the camp will lose one seat.

But pan-democrats say the rezoning plan places them at a greater disadvantage. Mr Sze Tak-loy, chairman of ADPL, says rezoning makes it harder for small political parties to compete with the established peers due to reallocation of already limited resources.

“A pro-establishment village is included in Po Nga constituency in Tai Po, which elected our member as councillor. The rezoning changes the demographic structure fundamentally, which does not favour us at all,” says Mr Gary Fan Kwok-wai from Neo Democrats.

Meanwhile, Mr Leung Man-kwong from BPA says he is not affected much by the rezoning. “The demographic structure [result] in my Fu Cheong constituency would be more consistent after rezoning,” Mr Leung says.

Among the 37 pan-democrat councilors affected are Mr Roy Kwong Chun-yu from the Democratic Party, as well as “umbrella soldiers” Ms Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying and Ms Kwong Po-yin who secured their seats after the Occupy protests in 2014.

Among them, Mr Kwong is believed to be affected the most. Two of the middle-class estates are excluded from his Pek Long constituency in Yuen Long, which gave him the most votes.

On the other hand, Ms Kwong, an ex-Youngspiration member of Whampoa West constituency, and Ms Yeung of Tai Hang constituency also see part of their sphere redrawn to constituency areas that elected pro-establishment councillors.

Scramble for new seats

With the completion of new housing estates, 21 new seats are also created. Most of them are in the New Territories such as Shui Chuen O Estate in Sha Tin and Hung Fuk Estate in Yuen Long.

In particular, Sha Tin and Sham Shui Po districts, which see three and two new seats respectively, will be the fiercest battleground between the pro-establishment camp and pan-democrat camp. The local councils in both districts are currently dominated by the pro-China councilors with only one seat difference.

Both sides have identified contestants for 10 of the 21 new seats created. For example, in Shui Chuen O Estate, Mr Lo Tak-ming from Neo Democrats is contesting Mr Bill Tang Ka-piu from the pro-China The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions.

In the last District Council election in 2015, 12 of the 19 new seats were won by pro-establishment councillors. But in the Legislative Council election in the following year, more pro-democracy candidates were elected.

This reflects the pro-establishment camps’ strong performance in district work, while broader political concerns hold sway at the LegCo level.

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