Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam may not see a smooth start when she takes office in July, with a new public opinion poll finding that more people opposed than wanted her as the city’s next leader.

“In terms of popularity, Lam is still believed to face a difficult start. Whether she could beat the tide remains to be seen,” Frank Lee Wai-kin, research manager of the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme (HKUPOP), said on Wednesday.

Carrie Lam (centre) met the press shortly after winning the leadership race on March 26, 2017. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

HKUPOP surveyed 1,002 Hongkongers immediately after last month’s chief executive election. The poll found that 43 per cent of respondents indicated support for Lam while 50 per cent opposed her. The net popularity rate was negative 8 per cent.

Age groups

The poll also found that the younger the respondents, the more they opposed Lam as chief executive, and the more dissatisfied they were with this year’s election process.

79 per cent of people aged 18 to 29 opposed Lam as chief executive, with only 16 per cent indicated support for her. In comparison, 51 per cent and 41 per cent of people aged 30 to 49 opposed and supported Lam respectively.

The trend is reversed in the oldest age bracket, with 40 per cent of people above 50 opposing Lam and 54 per cent supporting her.

Carrie Lam’s popularity rate. Photo: HKUPOP.

Lam fared slightly better than incumbent leader Leung Chun-ying in the comparable time period. Leung received negative 13 per cent points immediately after he was elected, with over half of 1,019 respondents opposing him and 38 per cent supporting him.

In comparison, Leung’s predecessor Donald Tsang was opposed by only 8 per cent of respondents after he won the leadership race. An overwhelming 75 per cent of those surveyed indicated support for him as chief executive.

Popularity ratings for all four chief executives and Carrie Lam. Photo: HKUPOP.

Over half of this year’s respondents said they believed Lam would do a better job than Leung as the city’s leader. However, 43 per cent of respondents thought that Lam failed to face the general public during the campaign period – a record high compared to Lam’s four predecessors.

Chief executive election

Meanwhile, 59 per cent of this year’s respondents said they were dissatisfied with the election process. The number is also the highest over the past 20 years. In comparison, only 22 per cent of those surveyed five years ago said they were dissatisfied with the election.

Leung Chun-ying and Carrie Lam. Photo: GovHK.

The majority – 76 per cent – of people aged 18 to 29 this year said they were dissatisfied with the election. Only 13 per cent said they were satisfied with it.

The poll found that the older the age group, the more respondents were satisfied with the election process.

Lam consistently lagged behind ex-finance chief John Tsang in public opinion polls during the campaign period. Nonetheless, she won last’s month small-circle election with 777 votes, while Tsang and a third candidate Woo Kwok-hing received 365 votes and 21 votes respectively from the 1,194-strong committee.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.