Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Constitutional Affairs
1998 Legislative Council Election : Subscribers and Election Deposit for Nomination
This paper sets out the Administration's preliminary proposals on the number and qualifications of subscribers and the amount of election deposit required for nomination, and on the threshold for forfeiture of the election deposit in respect of the first HKSAR Legislative Council (LegCo) election and the elections of Election Committee members (*EC subsector elections') to be held in 1998. Members' views on the Administration's preliminary proposals are welcome.
2.Under section 82(2)(a), (b) and (c) of the Legislative Council Ordinance, the Chief Executive in Council is empowered to make regulations to provide for the following -
- the number or qualifications of subscribers required for nomination;
- the amount of election deposit required for nomination; and
- the forfeiture of the election deposit if the candidate, or the list of candidates in the case of LegCo geographical elections, fails to obtain a prescribed proportion of the votes cast in the relevant constituency (hereafter to be referred to as the " threshold for forfeiture " ).
The requirements for subscribers and election deposit for nomination, and the provision for forfeiture of election deposit, are long established and well accepted measures to prevent abuse of the electoral system by frivolous candidates. The presence of frivolous candidates in elections will not only undermine the credibility of the elections, but could also lead to complaints by the public that public funds (in the form of subsidies in kind to candidates) are improperly used.
3.A summary of the Administration's preliminary proposals is set out in the Annex. Details are explained in paragraph 4 - 14 below.
(a) Number of Subscribers
Geographical Constituencies (GCs)
4.In setting the number of subscribers for GC elections, the following factors should be taken into account-
- the number of subscribers required should be appropriate as a deterrence against frivolous candidates;
- it should have regard to the size of the constituency; and
- the proposal should be simple and practicable.
In 1995, the number of subscribers required for nomination in a LegCo GC was 50 per candidate.
5.For the 1998 LegCo GC elections, the size of a GC will be three to five times larger than in 1995. It may be argued that the number of subscribers should therefore be increased proportionately to, say, 200 subscribers for a 4-seat constituency. However, this would result in a very bulky nomination paper, as each subscriber is required to put his personal particulars (e.g. ID card number) and signature on the nomination paper. The time and effort required to check that all subscribers fulfil the qualifications would also be substantial.
6.In order to strike a balance between the three relevant factors mentioned in paragraph 4 above, we propose to set the number of subscribers required for nomination by each list of candidates in a GC in 1998 at 100. This requirement should apply to all GCs.
Functional Constituencies (FCs)
7.In the 1995 LegCo FC elections, 5 subscribers were required for the FCs for the two municipal councils, and 10 subscribers for the remaining FCs which are retained for the 1998 LegCo. We do not see any reason to change this arrangement. We propose to adopt the same requirements for the 1998 LegCo FC elections, i.e. 5 subscribers for the Urban Council and the Regional Council FCs, and 10 subscribers for the other FCs.
Election Committee (EC)
8.Given that the potential electorate size of the EC will be increased from 283 in 1995 to 800 for the 1998 LegCo election, we propose to increase the number of subscribers required for nomination for the EC from 5 to 10. This will bring the requirement in respect of the EC on par with that in respect of the FCs with similar electorate size.
(b) Qualifications of Subscribers
9.In past elections, a subscriber must be a registered elector in respect of the constituency concerned. It was open to him to subscribe to the nominations of as many candidates as there are seats for the constituency concerned. This applied to all constituencies, i.e. GCs, FCs and the EC. We do not propose to make any change to these qualifications for the 1998 elections.
10.The arrangement will be slightly different for the GCs. Under the List system of voting to be adopted in the LegCo GC elections, each elector may vote for only one list whilst each GC has three to five seats. Having regard to the special feature of the List system of voting, we propose that in respect of nomination in a GC, each subscriber may subscribe to only one list of candidates, irrespective of the number of seats for the GC concerned.
(c) Amount of Election Deposit
11.The amount of election deposit for the 1995 LegCo election was $20,000 for all constituencies. For the 1998 LegCo election, having regard to the much larger amount of subsidies in kind to candidates in the enlarged GCs (e.g. two rounds of free postage of election material to registered electors for each list of candidates) than that for candidates of the FCs or the EC, we propose to set a higher amount of election deposit for the GCs than the FCs and EC.
12.We propose that the election deposit should be set at $50,000 for each list of candidates for the GC elections. It should be noted that the candidates on the same list can share out this amount and the deposit is refundable provided the list of candidates can obtain not less than a prescribed proportion of the valid votes cast (see paragraph 13 below). As for the FCs and the EC, the level of election deposit would be $25,000.
(d) Forfeiture of election deposit
13.In past elections, the election deposit of failed candidates whose votes are less than a certain prescribed threshold were forfeited. In the 1991 and the 1995 LegCo elections, the threshold for forfeiture was set at 5% for GCs and FCs. We do not propose to change this threshold for the 1998 LegCo election. As regard the LegCo EC election in 1995, each elector may cast only one vote and a candidate who obtained roughly 10% of the total votes would be guaranteed a LegCo seat. A lower threshold of 2.5% was thus adopted to reflect this special feature. However, for the LegCo EC election in 1998, each elector in the EC is required to cast all 10 votes. It is no longer appropriate to provide for a lower threshold for the EC. We propose that the EC should adopt the same threshold for GCs and FCs, i.e. 5%.
II. EC Sub-sector Elections
14.Elections for LegCo GCs, FCs and EC are to return members of the LegCo, whereas the purpose of EC sub-sector elections is to return members of the EC only. Having regard to the difference in status of a LegCo member vis-a-vis an EC member, we consider that the requirements for LegCo elections should be more stringent than those for EC sub-sector elections in respect of number of subscribers, amount of election deposit and threshold for forfeiture. On this basis, we propose that the requirements for nomination in EC sub-sector elections should be as follows -
- the number of subscribers for nomination be set at five ;
- the amount of election deposit for nomination be fixed at $5,000; and
- the threshold for forfeiture of election deposit be pegged at 2.5% of the total votes cast in the relevant sub-sector.
The same requirements would apply to the four sub-sub-sectors which make up the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication sub-sector. As regards qualifications for subscribers, we propose to adopt the same requirements as for LegCo elections.
15.In view of the tight election timetable and the need to make early announcement of the detailed rules for the elections next year, a decision on the subject matter is expected to be made before the end of 1997.
Constitutional Affairs Bureau
22 November 1997
Subscribers and Election Deposit for Nomination
|A.||Number of subscribers :|
|(iii) proposal for 1998||100*
|B.||Amount of election deposit :|
|(iii) proposal for 1998||$50,000
|C.||Threshold for forfeiture of election deposit :|
|(ii) 1995||5%||5%|| 5%
|(iii) proposal for 1998
* For the GCs, each subscriber may subscribe to the nomination of only one list of candidates, whereas in the case of the FCs, EC and EC sub-sectors, each subscriber may subscribe to as many nominations as there are seats in the constituency concerned.
# The proposals for EC sub-sectors also apply to the 4 sub-sub-sectors of the Sport, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication sub-sector.