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Covid-19 overshadows Legislative Assembly election campaign launch

Indirect elections are a fait accompli, but 128 candidates are vying for 14 seats in the direct elections on 12 September.

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Indirect elections are a fait accompli, but 128 candidates are vying for 14 seats in the direct elections on 12 September.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:41 am

 

*Last updated at 8:40 am on 30 August 2021

Hustings for next month’s direct and indirect Legislative Assembly elections have kicked off, albeit muted by Covid-19 precautions.

Like the 2017 elections, many of the direct-election Lists pasted their campaign posters on a board provided by the government in Praça do Tap Seac when the election campaign started at midnight on Saturday.

This year’s direct election sees the lowest number of candidacy Lists since the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR), which held its first direct legislative election in 2001.

The Electoral Affairs Commission has set aside 18 public venues for the election campaign, which ends at midnight on 10 September. Campaigning is not allowed on the eve of the elections.

The commission has imposed strict Covid-19 prevention and control measures on the campaign activities such as crowd management.

For instance, only up to 10 representatives from each candidacy List were allowed to enter a Covid-19 control and management area in Praça do Tap Seac when the lists put up their campaign posters.

Observers have noted that compared to the elections four years ago the mood during this year’s campaign can be expected to be dampened by Covid-19 prevention and control measures.

Speaking in Praça do Tap Seac shortly after the start of the campaign, Tong Hio Fong, who heads the commission, said that the campaigning activities there had been carried out “in an orderly manner” in line with Covid-19 crowd control measures. Tong did not comment on whether the voter turnout will be impacted.

The polls consist of the direct election of 14 lawmakers by popular vote and the indirect election of 12 legislators by association representatives.

Fourteen Lists and a total of 128 candidates are running in the direct election – making 9.1 candidates per seat.

In the run-up to the elections, five candidacy Lists were disqualified by the Electoral Affairs Commission of the Legislative Assembly Election on 13 July, which cited disloyalty to the MSAR and disrespect for the Macao Basic Law.

The appeals by the trustees of three of the Lists were turned down by Macao’s top court, the three-judge Court of Final Appeal, on 31 July.

The direct and indirect elections will take place on 12 September.

The indirect election is a fait accompli as there are only 12 candidates for the 12 seats at stake.

The Electoral Affairs Commission has set aside 18 public venues for the election campaign which ends at midnight on 10 September. Campaigning is not allowed on the eve of the elections.

The commission has imposed strict Covid-19 prevention and control measures on the campaign activities such as crowd management.

Macao’s elections are based on the proportional representation system. There are no political parties in Macao.

Community organisations usually set up ad hoc candidacy Lists in the run-up to the elections, which are held every four years.

The chief executive of the MSAR appoints seven lawmakers within 15 days after polling day.

Of the legislature’s 33 members (“deputies”), 42.4 per cent are directly elected by universal suffrage, 36.4 per cent are indirectly elected by association representatives and 21.2 per cent are appointed by the chief executive.

According to the Macao Basic Law,  the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly “shall be elected.”

Macao has an executive-led political system. Lawmakers’ bills relating to government policies require the chief executive’s written consent before they can be submitted to the legislature.

Permanent residents aged at least 18 have the right to vote and to be elected, irrespective of nationality.

The associations participating in the indirect election are made up of representatives from the business, labour, professional, educational, sports and other sectors.

A total of 25 Lists (one of which withdrew before polling day) competed in the 2017 direct election, The Macau Post Daily reported.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:41 am

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