Separate Vote Count Mechanism

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  • Topic: Politics of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Constituencies
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  • Published : February 15, 2013
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Topic: The Separate Vote Count Mechanism in the Hong Kong Legislative Council

In Hong Kong Legislative Council (Legco), the decision rule is difference for the bills by government and the bills by the legislative council members. There are different views about the Separate Vote Count Mechanism in the decision rule of Legco. Some people think that it cannot reveal public interest and some people think it has its function on resisting so called “unreasonable” or “nonsense” bills by the legco members. This essay is going to talk about the decision rules in the Legco and also it will focus on the separate vote count mechanism.

Introduction of Legislative Council and its decision rules

The Articles 66 to 79 of the Basic Law is the rules which set up for the formation, term of office, powers and functions and other matters of the Legco. The principle duties of the Legco are to enact, amend or repeal laws, examine and approve budgets, taxation and public expenditure as well as raise questions on the work of the government. Moreover, the Legco also has the power to endorse the appointment and removal of the judges of the Court of Final Appeal and the Chief Judge of the High Court and also the power to impeach the Chief Executive. In 2012, the fifth Legco is composited by 70 members. Thirty-five members of the Legco are returned by the geographic constituencies through direct elections and the other half of members are returned by the functional constituencies.

There are two types of bills and they are the bills and motions introduced by the government and by the Legco members. For the bills by the government, it includes important bills and the ordinary bills. And the important bills are related to the method of forming the Legco, Legco’s procedures for voting on bills and motions and the amendment on the provisions of annex 2 in Basic Law. Ordinary bills are all the bills which is unrelated to the above aspects. For the voting of bills, there should have absolute majority of the Legco members present for ordinary bills and two-thirds majority of all the Legco members for the important bills. Besides, in the bills and motions introduced by the Legco members, it included ordinary bills and special occasion. In the voting of ordinary bills, there should have an absolute majority of each of the two groups of members of the functional constituency and the geographical constituency present. This is also called the “separate vote count mechanism”. On the other hand, there would have voting for some special occasions introduced by the Legco members. For instant, if the council members impeach the government, there should have two-thirds of all Legco members pass the bills. And if there is any misbehavior of council members and there are two-thirds majority of the Legco members present pass the condemnation, the council member will forfeit the qualification in Legislative Council. In addition, the Legco is very complicated in reality. There are different factors which affecting the final decision on bills. The two major factors would be the power of political parties and the recognition of the bills.

Introduction of Separate Vote Count Mechanism

According to the Annex 2 of the Basic Law, all the passage of motions, bills and amendments to government bills introduced by the Legco individual members should have the majority support of each from the two groups of the members present. And that is the members returned by functional constituencies and members returned by geographical constituencies from the direct elections and by the Election Committee. With the constitution of the separate vote count mechanism, the influence and power of the Legco are kept under control. The merit of the institution of the separate vote count mechanism is that, by imposing a higher threshold, it can moderate an extreme change of the policy direction. Thus, the government can conduct an integrated executive leadership and a...
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