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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

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Legislative Council Building
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Legislative Council Building

The Legislative Council of Hong Kong (立法會, abbreviated LegCo) is the legislature of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

Contents

History

Formed as a colonial legislature (Legislative Council) under the British, the first direct elections of LegCo took place in 1991.

The Legislative Council of Hong Kong has been housed in the Old Supreme Court building in Central since 1985.

The statue on the LegCo building is a replica of the one erected on the Old Bailey of London. It is the goddess of justice, Themis. It was a left-over from the former Supreme Court.

Organisation

The term of office of a legislator is four years in length, except for the first term from 1998 to 2000 which was set at two years (Article 69, Basic Law).

In the 2004 election, 30 members were directly elected by universal suffrage from geographical constituencies (GC) and 30 were elected from functional constituencies. In the previous election in 2000, 24 were directly elected, 6 elected from a 800-member electoral college called the Election Committee of Hong Kong, and 30 elected from functional constituencies. The method of election after 2007 has not been specified. The Basic Law states that the ultimate aim is the election of all the Legco members by universal suffrage (Article 68 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong).

Private members' bills and motions have to be passed by majorities in both chambers of the legislature - members returned from geographical constituencies and election committee, and members returned from functional constituencies. This arrangement, however, is not necessary for government bills, with only a simple majority required to secure passage. Meanwhile, amendments to the Basic Law require a two-thirds vote in LegCo for passage, but without a specific requirement in each chamber. After passing LegCo, the amendment must be approved by a supermajority of the same size among Hong Kong's delegates to the National People's Congress, and also the approval of the Chief Executive (since veto power is given to him).(Article 159, Basic Law)

Constituencies

Geographical constituencies

The GC seats are returned by universal suffrage. The voting system adopted in these electoral districts is a system of party-list proportional Representation (PR), with seats allocated by the largest remainder method using the Hare quota as the quota for election. The system is widely considered to give representative legislatures. There were 3.06 million registered voters.

Geographical ConstituencyNo. of Seats
20002004
Hong Kong Island56
Kowloon East45
Kowloon West44
New Territories East57
New Territories West68
Total2430

Functional constituencies

(Compare with 'business votes' in the City of London)

There are 28 functional constituencies (FC) represented in LegCo, representing various sectors of the community which were considered playing a crucial role in the development of Hong Kong.

In the 2000 election, 27 of the FCs returned 1 member, except the Labour functional constituency which returned 3 members, giving a total of 30 FC seats.

  • Heung Yee Kuk
  • Agriculture and fisheries
  • Insurance
  • Financial services
  • Transport
  • Accountancy
  • Finance
  • Education
  • Legal
  • Information technology
  • Medical
  • Health services
  • Architectural, surveying and planning
  • Real estate and construction
  • Social welfare
  • Tourism
  • Commercial (first)
  • Commercial (second)
  • Industrial (first)
  • Industrial (second)
  • Import and export
  • Wholesale and retail
  • Textiles and garment
  • Sport, performing arts, culture and publication
  • Catering
  • District Council
  • Labour

A simple plurality system was used for 23 of the FCs, in which an eligible voter may cast one vote. The exceptions were Labour FC in which a voter may cast up to three votes, thereby creating a block vote, and the Heung Yee Kuk, Agriculture and Fisheries, Insurance, and Transport FCs where a preferential elimination system was used due to the small number of voters. In the latter a voter must indicate preferences rather than approval/disapproval or a single choice.

Election Committee

10 LegCo members and were returned by the Election Committee (EC) in the 1998 election, and 6 in the 2000 election, in accordance with Annex II of the Basic Law. Now this college of electors is used only to elect the Chief Executive. There are 800 members in the EC, coming from four sectors with 200 members each. (Basic Law, Ann.1, Sect. 2)

  • Industrial, commercial and financial sectors
  • The professions
  • Labour, social services, religious and other sectors
  • Members of the LegCo, representatives of district-based organisations, Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC), and representatives of Hong Kong members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Most of the 800 EC members were returned by earlier sub-sector elections. The 6 LegCo members were chosen by a "first past the post" system, with each EC member casting a vote to choose exactly 6 candidates among themselves.

Presidents of the Legislative Council

In February 1993, the governor ceased to be member and president of the council. The presidency was handed over to a member elected from among the unofficial members.

In 1991, a Deputy President was appointed by the governor from among the members to chair the sittings. The governor remained president and member, but systematically absented himself from most of the sittings.

See also

External Links

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