The political system of Hong Kong is based on the Basic Law which was agreed upon by the British and Chinese authorities in 1984 and took effect in 1997 with the return of Hong Kong to China. The Basic Law aims to maintain legal, political, and economic autonomy for 50 years.
The electoral process in Hong Kong is based on semi-democratic structures but cannot be regarded as fully democratic. Although its proclaimed goal is universal suffrage, only 35 out of 70 seats in the legislative body, the Legislative Council (Legco), are directly elected. Thirty are chosen through functional constituencies representing key social and economic sectors. The remaining five are publicly elected from pre-selected candidates from the 18 district councils. The Chief Executive serves as head of government.
The office holder is chosen by an election committee consisting of 1,200 pre-selected Hong Kong residents from different constituencies, many with close ties to Beijing.
The continuing debate over how Hong Kong will choose its most powerful figure, the Chief Executive, reached emergency proportions with a mass protest movement’s seizing large portions of the three downtown core areas (Central-Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok).
The Hong Kong government delivered the second of a five-round constitutional reform process to Bejing in the form of a report compiling submissions from the Hong Kong people. It ignored and downplayed the democratic aspirations of many, causing anger. The National People’s Standing Congress then delivered a paper that seemed to shut the door on the issue of how nominations would be conducted. The people of Hong Kong were advised to take the deal on offer (universal suffrage, but candidates screened by Beijing) by mainland spokespersons, the Hong Kong government and various so-called ‘pro-establishment’ figures allied with Beijing.