【明報專訊】Last week's District Council election marked a sweeping victory for the pan-democrats, who secured 386 out of 452 seats, accounting for 85% of the total. Many regarded the victory as a loud and clear declaration of discontent against the pro-establishment's stance on the extradition bill saga and police violence in the last few months. In districts where the pro-democracy turnout rate was exceptionally high, voters rejoiced to see their pro-establishment district councillors swapped for someone from the other camp.
However, any declaration of "victory" is perhaps premature. Older voters would recall a similar situation in 2003, after half a million people took to the streets to protest against the proposal to enact national security laws under Article 23 of the Basic Law. As a result, the DAB faced a hard setback in the 2003 District Council election, securing only 62 seats out of its 206 candidates.
This power balance did not last long. The subsequent 2007 District Council Election saw the pendulum reverse direction. Pro-establishment councillors regained majority control, which lasted all the way until the recent election. Sceptics have always criticised these councillors for "bribing" grassroots voters with petty favours such as free souvenirs, dinners and trips. However, pan-democrats haven't been able to come up with an alternative plan that would translate into support to them in elections.
The crux of this debate is probably "care". For those who live a humble and solitary life, the right amount of care that comes in an appropriate form speaks louder than verbal promises. To elderly people living on their own, free dinners organised by political parties may be the only social gathering they have in a while. Short trips to nearby areas also provide a rare chance of entertainment. Who are we to deny their support for councillors who are able to provide timely physical comfort? Unless we can come up with creative and candid plans to address the common need of a caring community, political ideologies alone will not sustain support for long.
Political work at the district level is not glorious. It ranges from fixing someone's dripping air conditioner, resolving conflicts over daily issues and campaigning for an extra bus stop. Consultation is often sporadic while implementation of new ideas requires a strong local network and ability to mobilise. All of these things do not come overnight. They take as much vitality and commitment to handle the nitty-gritty (重要細節) of democracy as campaigning for voters' favour at an election does. The election was a start, certainly far from an achievement.
Mona C. has a strong appetite for stories. Feed her enough.
Facebook: A Journey Backwards