Legislative Council elections in Hong Kong postponed by a year amidst rising coronavirus fears

Pratik Purswani, International Affairs Officer

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, invoked a colonial-era emergency law to postpone September’s Legislative Council elections by a year, citing the coronavirus pandemic as a reason for the precaution.

The Chief Executive said that the delay was needed “to ensure fairness and public safety and health” and “to make sure the election is held in an open, fair and impartial manner”. She also added that this decision was only made in light of the current pandemic, denying it to be a political move. Beijing, while welcoming the move, has called it “necessary, reasonable and legal”.

The move is seen as a setback for the pro-democracy opposition, which was hoping to capitalize on disenchantment with the current pro-Beijing majority and secure a historic majority for itself.

The vote in September would have been the first since Beijing imposed the controversial national security law, which contains a provision barring candidates from running if found in violation of the new legislation. The national security law has been widely criticized as an attempt by China to curb rising dissent against Beijing in Hong Kong. Twelve pro-democracy candidates were barred from running in elections for not complying with city’s constitution.