, HONG KONG, July 15 – Hong Kong’s leader will unveil the government’s vision for electoral reform Tuesday as public pressure for democracy grows and activists pledge to take over the city if their demands are not met.
Discontent has escalated over what is seen as increasing interference from China and Beijing’s insistence that it vet candidates before the vote for the city’s next leader in 2017.
It is not clear what exactly will be in the document, which chief executive Leung Chun ying will present on Tuesday afternoon and submit to Beijing.
A government statement described it as “a report on whether there’s a need to amend the methods for selecting the chief executive in 2017”.
Local media reports say that it will lay out various voting options without committing to one in particular.
It will also lay out options for the election of the city’s legislative council in 2016.
Critics have said that it is too soon to send the report with debate still raging over the voting process, but Leung defended the move.
“There are a wide range of opinions in society over how we can make amendments to the election methods in 2016 and 2017 based on the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s constitution),” Leung told reporters on Tuesday morning.
“We have many procedures to go through and legislation takes time.”
Currently the city’s leader is chosen by a 1,200 strong pro Beijing committee — China has promised universal suffrage at the next elections but has ruled out the public choosing candidates.
Pro democracy group Occupy Central and its allies have said that they will take over the streets of the city’s central business district if public nomination is ruled out.
An informal democracy poll organised by Occupy in June saw a turnout of almost 800,000 who chose from three options, all of which included public nomination of candidates.
That poll was followed by a major pro democracy march on July 1.
The submission of Leung’s report to China is the first in a five-step process on electoral reform in Hong Kong, with the green light from Beijing essential for any amendments to be passed.
It will reach Beijing in time for next month’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee meeting, which is expected to discuss electoral reform in Hong Kong.
The unveiling of the report will follow an announcement Tuesday of the results of an official five-month public consultation to gauge voters’ views on the electoral process.