Only time will tell us what people in the city really want [China Daily]

The few days immediately after an election are always dangerous for political analysis.Pundits, and the people that read their commentaries, try to use individual victories or defeats in order to predict long-term trends, or to support conclusions they already had. We have already started to see commentary from last Sunday’s elections. Writers say that its results”prove” that Hong Kong’s population is still politically polarized. It is not yet clear that the results of Sunday’s elections support that conclusion. Turnout on Sunday did break records, with a respectable 47 percent of those eligible taking part in the elections. But we must keep this in context. The elections in 2011 had a turnout of 41.5 percent, meaning that this Sunday’s elections had a non-trivial, but not necessarily large, increase in turnout. Nor is it clear what caused this increase: Commentators are assuming it was the illegal “Occupy Central”movement, but it could also have been local scandals, or even just Sunday’s nice weather.

Even if the “Occupy” movement encouraged people to go to the polls, it is not yet clear whether it had any effect on how they decided to vote. Several experienced pro-establishment candidates lost to newcomers, but so did several experienced “pan-democratic” candidates.Some “umbrella soldiers” saw success in their elections – perhaps more than was expected -but they still won only eight of the 50 seats they contested. Many incumbents, on both sides,held onto their seats, and 66 seats were uncontested.

This is an excerpt from an opinion piece published in China Daily on November 25th, 2015. The full article can be accessed here.