The candidate list of Neo Democrats’ Kwan Wing-yip suspended his election campaign on Saturday morning, a day before the Legislative Council election.
Kwan is running in the District Council (Second) Functional Constituency, commonly known as a “super seat.” He said it was due to pressure experienced by his party colleagues online, after two pan-democratic candidates in the constituency dropped out.
Sumly Chan Yuen-sum of the Civic Party and Kalvin Ho Kai-ming from the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood dropped out on Friday evening. They said they wanted to increase the chance of other pan-democratic candidates.
Kwan made a u-turn in suspending his campaign, as he told media on Friday night that he would not drop out following Chan and Ho’s decision.
He said it was indeed his former position, but many of his party colleagues were being attacked online, urging him to drop out. He added it was a decision made out of pressure and helplessness.
“We cannot let these attacks on our colleagues continue,” he said. “This is the darkest day of my political life.”
“These pro-democracy people are doing something against democratic principles… this is destroying the core values of Hong Kong, this is a difficult decision,” he said.
He said he will shift his focus to help his party’s Gary Fan Kwok-wai to gain re-election.
Their moves will likely boost the election chances of the three remaining pan-democratic candidates, especially Roy Kwong Chun-yu of the Democratic Party, in order to beat Holden Chow Ho-ding of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), who are racing for the last seat in the five-seat constituency.
The latest opinion polls conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme between August 21 and September 1 show that both Kwong and Chow were at nine per cent support.
The poll suggested that Kwan was at two per cent support, Chan at five per cent of the vote, and Ho at one per cent.
Polls currently suggest that pro-democracy candidates James To Kun-sun and Leung Yiu-chung will be elected with 25 per cent and 12 per cent of the vote respectively.
Pro-Beijing candidates DAB’s Starry Lee Wai-king and Federation of Trade Unions’ Wong Kwok-hing are poised to win the two remaining seats with 24 per cent and 12 per cent of the vote respectively.
The constituency was first introduced in 2012, and offers over three million voters a second ballot. In addition to the geographical constituencies elected by popular vote, those who do not hold a functional constituency vote are able to elect an incumbent district councillor into the Legislative Council.
It is the latest in a string of election campaign suspensions on Friday night. Hong Kong Island’s Paul Zimmerman and Andy Chui, along with the Labour Party’s Suzanne Wu also dropped out of the race to make way for other candidates with higher approval ratings.
The DAB issued a statement on Friday night criticising the drop out decisions, saying that the candidates betrayed their voters’ support.
“This is an irresponsible act, showing that they have no political integrity, they do not bear responsibility for Hong Kong,” it read.
It also claimed that there was someone manipulating the camp, with the intention to force voters to listen to their command.
The Federation of Trade Unions, in a statement, said they will “never give up on the campaign.”
Vote for opposition
Meanwhile, Clarice Cheung Wai-ching, an independent candidate running in the New Territories West constituency, also announced the suspension of her campaign on Friday night, after five pan-democrats dropped out.
A district councillor herself, she said she was once a member of the pro-Beijing camp, but she decided to withdraw from her party and run independently.
But after seeing the difficult situation of the opposition camp, she said the support for her could be transferred to the Civic Party’s Kwok Ka-ki, Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre’s Wong Yun-tat, or other hopefuls from the opposition camp who may win a seat, so that they can maintain a vital veto power in the legislature.
There is no mechanism to withdraw from the election after a candidacy is confirmed. Candidates who have dropped out will still be listed on the ballot.
The legislative election will take place on Sunday. Full candidate lists across districts and constituencies can be viewed here.