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Editorial : Political issues have failed to galvanise voters

【明報專訊】THE pan-democrats have suffered another setback in the second Legco by-election in Kowloon West. There are two sentiments evident in the election results: the lack of enthusiasm for "old faces", and the apathy towards political topics.

In terms of voter turnout and the performance of the two major camps, this by-election bore a lot of similarity to the one held on 11th March this year, which was won by Vincent Cheng with 107,000 votes. This time around, Rebecca Chan, a "political amateur", has also clinched a victory with 106,000 votes. As for the non-establishment camp, the votes garnered by Lee Cheuk-yan, jointly nominated by the pan-democrats and Frederick Fung, former chairman of the ADPL altogether were also in the neighbourhood of the 105,000 votes cast for Edward Yiu, the democratic candidate, in the previous by-election.

Edward Yiu had made quite a few strategic mistakes in his campaign during the previous election for the Kowloon West seat. This time around, Lee's campaign was in many ways an improvement on Yiu's. Rather than merely try to create momentum on social media, he hit the streets in many districts. He also mounted a wide-ranging effort to canvass for votes — not only were veteran politicians like Martin Lee deployed to drum up support for him, but people like Joshua Wong also crisscrossed the district to mobilise young voters. But all that failed to boost voter turnout. Lee received around 93,000 votes. Some people attribute his defeat to vote-splitting by Frederick Fung. Statistics do show that Fung affected Lee more than he did Chan. However, even if vote-splitting played a role in the election, the votes received by Lee and Fung altogether were fewer than Chan's. That the pan-democrats have suffered two consecutive defeats in by-elections has raised the alarm. The pan-democrats should take stock of what has happened seriously instead of shifting blame onto others.

The election results have accentuated two things: voters are tired of old faces, and they are apathetic about political issues. That voters crave new faces to effect change is a global trend, which explains the high "depreciation rate" of politicians today. In both of the two previous by-elections, both the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps fielded young faces. The contest between Lee and Chan this time, in contrast, fully exposed the problem of "political depreciation". Supported by the pro-establishment camp, Chan emphasised her image as a political amateur, which helped her widen her appeal and drum up support from moderate voters.

After the by-election, the pro-establishment camp has a majority in both the functional constituencies and the geographical constituencies. If members of the camp act in unison, they will always be able to secure a victory in the split voting system. Theoretically, the hegemony of the pro-establishment camp can reduce the obstacles facing the governance of the SAR government. But both the government and the pro-establishment camp have to bear in mind one thing: that they have enough votes in Legco does not mean that they can do whatever they want. All rational voters have a yardstick by which to evaluate whether politicians are abusing their power and acting arbitrarily. They have punished the pan-democrats for filibustering. They can do the same to members of the pro-establishment camp if they act outrageously. If the pro-establishment camp exploits its power rather than act within reason and tighten the Rules of Procedure out of partisanship, it will definitely be punished by voters in the next election.

明報社評2018.11.27:政治議題效果不彰 民主派須思考前路

立法會九龍西第2次補選,民主派再度受挫,選舉結果反映了選民兩種情緒,一是對老面孔的厭倦,一是對政治議題的冷淡。

今次補選,無論是投票率還是兩大陣營表現,都跟今年初3.11立法會九西補選情况相若。繼上次民建聯鄭泳舜以10.7萬票當選之後,建制派支持的「政治素人」陳凱欣,亦以10.6萬票勝出;非建制派方面,若將民主派「共推」的李卓人,與民協前主席馮檢基的得票相加,也跟上次補選民主派姚松炎的10.5萬票差不多。

上次九西補選,姚松炎選舉工程犯了不少策略錯誤。今次李卓人出戰,民主派選舉工程已改善了不少,包括多做落區宣傳而非一味靠社交媒體造勢,拉票方面也採取大包圍策略,既有元老級的李柱銘等拉票,亦有黃之鋒等四出奔走動員年輕選民,可是仍然無法顯著谷高得票。李卓人得票約為9.3萬,有人將他落敗歸咎於馮檢基「𠝹票」。數據顯示「馮檢基因素」對李卓人的影響,比起對陳凱欣的影響大,惟就算「𠝹票效應」存在,馮李得票總和仍然不及陳凱欣。民主派連續兩次補選敗陣,警號已經響起,民主派必須認真檢討,不能將落敗責任推給他人。

今次補選結果,突顯選民對老面孔的厭倦,以及對政治議題的冷淡。選民渴望新面孔帶來變化,乃是全球趨勢,當今政治人物「折舊率」很高。之前兩次立法會補選,建制與民主派都派出年輕面孔出戰,今次李卓人撼陳凱欣,政治折舊問題即時顯露無遺。陳凱欣有建制派支持,她在競選期間突出政治素人形象,有助她開拓票源,爭取中間選民支持。

補選後,建制派無論在功能組別和地區直選組別均有過半數優勢,只要建制派立場一致,未來立法會分組點票,建制派穩操勝券。理論上,建制派「一派獨大」,可以減少特區政府施政阻力,然而政府和建制派必須緊記,立法會「夠票」不代表可以為所欲為。所有理性的選民,心中都有一把尺,去衡量從政者有否濫用權力,胡作非為。市民可以用選票懲罰民主派拉布,亦可以用選票懲罰建制派離譜行為。倘若建制派有權用盡不講道理,出於黨同伐異收緊《議事規則》,下次換屆選舉必遭選民懲罰。

■Glossary

take stock (of sth) : to think carefully about a situation or event and form an opinion about it, so that you can decide what to do

accentuate : to emphasise sth or make it more noticeable

field : to provide a candidate, speaker, team, etc. to represent you in an election, a competition, etc.

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