2020 年 6 月下旬實施《香港國安法》後， 2021 年 12 月 19 日舉行的香港立法會選舉，不僅體現了建制派自上而下的政治動員力，而在 2022 年 3 月香港行政長官選舉之後，也將會給台灣的政治前途作出重要的示範。
親政府的統一戰線自上而下的動員力，在整個選舉中表現突出，從候選人提名、鼓勵非建制精英參選、動員親政府支持者投票支持志同道合的候選人。 所有親建制統戰組織都出現在各個助選街站，義工和工作人員不時到現場幫忙，勤力分發傳單，並動員他們的朋友和人脈在選舉日投票。親建制陣營能夠動員約120 萬名支持者在地區直選中投票支持他們的候選人，實在並不奇怪。
最出人意料的結果是在功能界別選舉中，自由黨候選人鍾國斌和經民聯候選人張華峰落選。在紡織及製衣界，作為自由黨黨魁的鍾國斌僅獲得82票，而他的競爭對手陳祖恒則獲得172票。在金融服務界，張華峰僅獲得169票，而他的競爭對手李惟宏則獲得314票。在 2019 年《逃犯條例（修訂）草案》爭議期間，一些親政府的選民可能會認為鍾國斌「不支持」政府。另一方面，張華峰可能會激怒一些親政府的支持者，因為他在 2019 年 6 月披露了工聯會麥美娟對行政長官林鄭月娥就政府處理《逃犯條例（修訂）草案》的閉門批評。不管兩人意外地落敗的原因是什麼，2021年立法會選舉功能界別選舉中仍然存在不確定因素。
另一個有趣的結果是在選舉委員會界別，51 名候選人中有 40 人當選立法會議員。就在選舉日前一周，本地傳媒體報道，北京當局沒有1500人選舉委員會選舉立法會議員的「推薦名單」。
如果報道是正確的，選舉結果可能會顯示一些真實的情況。非華裔候選人盛智文和盧維思分別以 955 票和 454 票落選。 前者幾乎當選，而當選的林智遠獲得970票，是當選的40名候選人中得票數最少的。民主黨前成員、前新聞統籌專員馮煒光落敗。落選的候選人中，有一名民建聯候選人陳凱榮、一名工聯會候選人蔡永強、一名全國政協屠海鳴。屠海鳴是在 2021 年立法會選舉中落敗的兩名政協委員之一（另一名是金融服務功能界別的張華峰）。在選舉委員會方面，中央似乎沒有像傳媒報道那樣發布任何推薦名單，因此，民建聯、工聯會和政協3名親政府候選人未能當選。
如果用「一國兩制」的香港模式來呼籲台灣接受統一，可以說，特赦部分民主派人士，或許對新的香港特區政府和中央政府來說都是個好主意。 2022 年 7 月 1 日之後，尤其是在台灣 2024 年 1 月總統大選之前，支持統一的國民黨，將因為大陸更為溫和的對港政策而在政治上間接獲得更多台灣民眾支持。
然而，中央對港政策若一直保持強硬，民進黨及其支持者很可能在政治上仍是台灣政治格局中最強大和佔主導地位的力量──這一事實可以從國民黨人韓國瑜的失敗中看到，他在 2020 年 6 月的罷免投票中，從高雄市長的位置上被迫下台。
再者，雖然中央在直選候選人之間似乎協調得很好，確保每個地方選區都有兩個以上的候選人互相競爭，但所有非建制派候選人都被徹底擊敗，民主黨沒有任何候選人參選。 儘管民主黨內建立了複雜的內部機制，讓黨員爭取提名參選立法會，卻未能讓選舉「五光十色」顯出不同的政治色彩。 2021 年立法選舉參選的色彩仍然單一，這種現像在未來必須得到顯著改善。
第四，由於 2021 年立法會選舉的群眾參與度相對較低，白皮書在結論中斷言香港民主發展的「光明前景」，將取決於幾個因素：一、下一屆立法會選舉會否會見到更高的市民參與度，最重要的是溫和民主派人士的積極參與；二、新一屆立法會是否能夠並會有效解決窮人和有需要的人的住房等緊迫的民生問題；中央會否稍為放緩香港內地化的腳步，以及四、「一國兩制」是否仍是中央呼籲台灣接受統一的口號。
不幸的是，香港的民主派在 2014 年和 2015 年被激進分子劫持，他們拒絕接受中央提出的這種政治上大方的模式。或許溫和民主派是時候進行批判性的自我反省，在未來幾年治癒他們的政治創傷，重新動員他們的支持者參加下一屆立法會選舉，並要求回歸2014年提出的「831框架」政治改革。不幸的是，「831框架」2015年被一些激進的、非理性的、情緒化的民主人士拒絕。
客觀地說，正如2021年12月白皮書所指出的，北京中央政府過去和現在都真誠地推動了香港的民主改革。 問題的癥結在於，部分香港民主人士在政治上頑固、破壞性強，未能把握中央2014年8月至2015年夏季提供的民主化大好機會。 2019年的政治動盪和暴力，導致 2020 年 6 月《香港國安法》的實施，讓很多民主人士現在深感沮喪，但不妨說，他們應該盡快治癒自己的傷口，以推動香港在未來幾年逐步民主化。
最後，鑑於 2021 年立法會選舉在其參與候選人和選舉結果方面相對單一，2022 年 3 月的行政長官選舉可能會見到一場更具競爭力的選舉，可能會有幾名候選人競爭 1500 名成員的選舉委員會的選票。有傳言稱，行政長官林鄭月娥的任期可能到2022年為止，儘管中央高度讚揚她的工作表現。
綜上所述，2021 年 12 月香港立法會選舉在幾個方面具有重要的政治意義：（1）在協調候選人和動員統戰建制團體和選民方面的巨大努力； （2）相對單一的選舉結果，只有一名非建制候選人通過功能界別當選立法會議員； （3）選舉委員會屆別的氣氛相對不那麼熱鬧； （4）香港社會尚有待醫治的政治創傷揮之不去； （5）從長遠來看，民主改革朝着行政長官直接普選的方向發展的可能性很大。然而，中央政府和香港的管治精英如何真正接觸政治溫和派來治癒社會的傷口，還有待觀察，因為一些香港人在政治上仍然覺得幻滅、冷漠、疏遠或害怕。
The 2021 Legislative Council Elections in Hong Kong: Mobilization, Divided Society and Implications for Taiwan
The Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) elections, which were held on 19 December 2021 after the imposition of the national security law in late June 2020, showed not only a top-down political mobilization by the pro-establishment united front, but also a deeply divided political society with legacies for Taiwan’s political development beyond the Hong Kong Chief Executive election in March 2022.
Only one non-establishment candidate, Tik Chi-yuen of the Third Side, was elected to the LegCo through the social welfare functional constituency. All other non-establishment candidates were soundly defeated in direct elections, functional constituencies and the sector returned from the 1,500-member Election Committee. The mass media used the term 89 to 1 to refer to the political predicament of the non-establishment camp, illustrating the overwhelming victory of the pro-establishment camp.
The top-down mobilization from pro-government united front forces was prominent in the entire elections, ranging from the nomination of candidates, the encouragement of non-establishment elites to run for direct elections, and the mobilization of pro-government supporters to vote for like-minded candidates. All the pro-establishment united front organizations appeared in various campaigning stations, where volunteers and workers took the attendance of their helpers regularly, distributed leaflets diligently, and mobilized their friends and networks to vote on the election day. Not surprisingly, the pro-establishment camp could mobilize some 1.2 million supporters to vote for their candidates in direct elections.
Among the 20 directly elected seats, the pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) grasped 10 seats (Starry Lee, Holden Chow, Ben Chan, Stanley Li, Edward Lau, Vincent Cheng, Frankie Ngan, Gary Chan, Edward Leung and Chan Hok-fung); the New People’s Party two seats (Regina Ip and Dominic Lee), the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) three seats (Stanley Ng, Bill Tang and Joephy Chan; the Roundtable one seat (Michael Tien); and other pro-establishment elites 4 seats (Gary Zhang of the New Prospect for Hong Kong; Yang Wing-kit, Connie Lam of the Professional Power, and Scott Leung of the Kowloon West Dynamic).
The most surprising result came from functional constituencies elections in which Liberal Party (LP) candidate Felix Chung and Business and Professional Alliance (BPA) candidate Christopher Cheung were defeated. In the textile and garment sector, Chung as the LP leader got only 82 votes while his competitor Sunny Tan of the Federation of Industries acquired 172 votes. In the financial services sector, Cheung obtained only 169 votes whereas his rival Robert Lee of the Hong Kong Securities Association garnered 314 votes. Some pro-government voters might see Chung as “unsupportive” of the government during the 2019 extradition bill controversy. On the other hand, Cheung might anger some pro-government supporters as he in June 2019 had revealed Alice Mak’s closed-door criticism of Chief Executive Carrie Lam over the government’s handling of the extradition bill (The Standard, June 19, 2019). Regardless of the reasons for their surprising defeat, the element of uncertainties in functional constituency elections persisted in the 2021 LegCo elections.
Another interesting result could be seen in the Election Committee sector that returned 40 of the 51 candidates to the LegCo. Just a week before the election day, it was reported in the local media that the Chinese authorities did not have a recommended list for the 1,500-member Election Committee to elect the legislators.
If this report was accurate, the election result might show some elements of truth. Non-Chinese candidates, Alan Zeman and Mike Rowse, were defeated with 955 and 454 votes respectively. The former was almost elected compared with the elected candidate Nelson Lam who got 970, the least number of votes among the elected 40 candidates. Younger candidates like Gary Chan and former democrat Fung Wai-kwong were defeated. Among the defeated candidates, there were one DAB candidate Chan Hoi-wing, one FYU candidate Tsai Wing-keung, and a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) To Hoi-ming. To was one of the two CPPCC members defeated in the 2021 LegCo elections (another was Christopher Cheung in the financial services functional constituency). In the Election Committee sector, the central authorities did not appear to issue any recommended list as reported by the media. As such, three pro-government candidates from the DAB, FTU and CPPCC were not elected.
Although the top-down nature of nominations, coordination and mobilization illustrated the success of the Chinese-style democracy, as a White Paper on Hong Kong’s democracy that was issued immediately one day after the election on December 20 asserted, objectively speaking there were some contradictions in the entire election.
First, the Hong Kong society remained deeply divided and its political wounds cannot be healed easily. A huge number of voters from the middle or politically moderate sector did not go to the polls, not to mention the core supporters of the traditional democrats. If united front was an objective of the LegCo elections, it succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of the die-hard supporters of the establishment camp. Conversely, a disunited front persists in Hong Kong where many eligible voters remained politically silent and are unhappy with the obvious tendency of political mainlandization of the city. The 30 percent voter turnout appears to be satisfactory from the pro-establishment’s mobilization perspective, but the silent majority who did not vote revealed that mainland authorities may have to work harder to win the hearts and minds of many moderates in Hong Kong.
Second, an irony in the election was that while several non-establishment candidates found it hard to gain sufficient nominations to enter the direct election race, they did call for an amnesty of those democrats who were imprisoned. Indeed, a full amnesty of the “law-breakers” would likely be very difficult unless the power elite and the central authorities really consider this likelihood to win the hearts and minds of more Hong Kong moderates.
If the Hong Kong model of “one country, two systems” is used to appeal to Taiwan for reunification, it can be argued that a partial amnesty of some democrats would perhaps be a good idea for the new government of Hong Kong and the central authorities after July 1, 2022, especially before the January 2024 presidential election in Taiwan where the pro-reunification Kuomintang (KMT) would politically and indirectly gain more local popularity from a much softer mainland policy toward Hong Kong. So long as the center’s policy toward Hong Kong remains hardline, the Democratic Progressive Party and its supporters would likely remain politically the most powerful and dominant force in Taiwan’s political landscape – a reality that could be seen in the failure of KMT Han Guo-yu in his downfall from the Kaohsiung mayor by a recall vote in June 2020.
Third, although the central authorities appeared to coordinate successfully among the candidates in direct elections to ensure that each geographical constituency had more than two candidates competing among themselves, the utter defeat of all the non-establishment candidates and the absence of any candidate from the Democratic Party, which had instituted a complex internal mechanism for its members to seek nominations to run for the legislative elections, failed to make the elections “glittering” with different political colors. The participative colors in the 2021 legislative elections remained monolithic and this phenomenon will have to be significantly improved in the future.
Fourth, due to the relatively low level of mass participation in the 2021 LegCo elections, the White Paper’s assertion in its conclusion that Hong Kong’s democratic future remains “bright” will depend on several factors: (1) whether the next LegCo elections will witness a higher level of mass participation and, most importantly, the active participation of moderate democrats, (2) whether the new LegCo can and will effectively tackle the urgent livelihood issues such as housing for the poor and the needy, (3) whether the central authorities will slightly soften the mainlandization of Hong Kong, and (4) whether the “one country, two systems” will remain a slogan used by the political center to appeal to Taiwan for reunification.
Arguably, if the model of “one country, two systems” continues to be used by the center to appeal to Taiwan for reunification, Hong Kong’s democratic prospects will hinge on whether the central authorities will reintroduce the discussion of allowing Hong Kong people to select their Chief Executive by universal suffrage. The White Paper on Hong Kong’s democracy published on December 20 does not repudiate the center’s decision on August 31, 2014, when the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress laid down the parameters of the Chief Executive elections for Hong Kong: namely 2 to 3 candidates screened out by an Election Committee would compete for the people’s votes through universal suffrage. Unfortunately, Hong Kong’s democratic camp in 2014 and 2015 were hijacked by the radicals who refused to accept this politically generous model offered by the central authorities. Perhaps it is time for the moderate democrats to engage in a critical self-reflection, to heal their political wounds in the coming years, to re-mobilize their supporters to participate in the next LegCo elections, and to demand for a return to the “831 model” of political reform that was floated in 2014 but was unfortunately rejected by some radical, irrational and emotional democrats in 2015.
Objectively speaking, the central government in Beijing, as the December 2021 White Paper pointed out, was and is sincere in promoting Hong Kong’s democratic reform. The crux of the problem was that some Hong Kong democrats were politically stubborn, disruptive and failed to grasp the golden opportunity of democratization as offered by the political center from August 2014 to the summer of 2015. The political turbulence and violence in 2019 led to the imposition of the national security law in June 2020, making many democrats now deeply frustrated, but arguably they should heal their own wounds quickly to push for Hong Kong’s gradual democratization in the coming years.
Given that the pro-establishment camp can grasp 89 of the 90 seats in LegCo, the implication is that, if direct election of the Chief Executive through universal suffrage would take place in Hong Kong one day, there would be a politically strong Chief Executive and a cooperative LegCo. Most importantly, the candidates running for the Chief Executive will have to be screened by the Election Committee so that any political “troublemakers” will have to be excluded in the first place – an ingredient of “democratic centralism” will be a reality in Hong Kong under China’s sovereignty and national security interest.
Finally, given that the 2021 LegCo elections were relatively monolithic in its participative candidates and electoral outcomes, the March 2022 Chief Executive election would likely witness a more competitive one with perhaps a few candidates struggling for the votes from the 1,500-member Election Committee. Rumors are rife that Chief Executive Carrie Lam may be serving her last term of office, albeit the central authorities have highly praised her work and performance.
In conclusion, the December 2021 LegCo elections in Hong Kong are politically significant in several aspects: (1) the tremendous efforts at coordinating candidates and mobilizing united front and pro-establishment groups and voters; (2) the relatively monolithic electoral result in which only one non-establishment candidate was elected to LegCo through the functional constituency; (3) the relatively less exciting atmosphere in the Election Committee sector; (4) the lingering and profound political wounds that remain to be healed in the society of Hong Kong; and (5) the open possibility of democratic reform toward the direction of selecting the Chief Executive directly through universal suffrage in the long run. Yet, it remains to be seen how the central authorities and the ruling elites in Hong Kong will really reach out to the politically moderate sector to heal the wounds of the society, because some Hong Kong people are still politically disillusioned, apathetic, alienated or frightened.
If united front work is the objective of the central authorities and the power elites in Hong Kong, they must do more to win the hearts and minds of all the Hong Kong people. Until the time that such political wounds can be healed, any call and push for the direct election of the Chief Executive through universal suffrage must be regarded as politically “immature” and “inappropriate.” Yet, ironically, the delay in introducing the direct election of the Chief Executive through universal suffrage would very likely not only hurt the KMT in Taiwan politically, but also give ammunition to some Taiwan people who continue to oppose the usage of any model of “one country, two systems” to deal with Taiwan’s political future.