Hong Kong’s pro-democracy parties won more than one third of seats in last weekends elections. The groups won 23 of the 60 seats up for reelection in the Legislative Council,thus retaining the key power to veto legislation in the city’s legislature.The poll was seen as a key test for the pro-democracy parties in the former British colony in the face of growing Chinese patriotism.
The parties had expressed fears they would slip below the crucial number of 21 seats — losing the ability to veto government legislation, which they successfully used in 2005 to block controversial constitutional reforms. Hong Kong was promised universal suffrage for both its legislature and chief executive when Britain handed back the territory to China in 1997, but no specific timetable was set.
Only 30 of the 60 legislative seats were being chosen by the city’s 3.37 million registered electors in Sunday’s poll. The remaining 30 "functional constituencies" represent various business and industry interests chosen by select electorates. Of the 23 seats won by the pro-democrats, 19 seats belong to the directly-elected geographical constituencies, while four seats were returned from the "functional constituencies."
Their biggest rival, the pro-Beijing ‘Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong’, retained about 10 seats in the council, the results showed. However the pro-democratic politician’s support among voters has dropped from 60% to 50%.
The election also threw up some surprising results. ‘The League of Social Democrats’, a radical anti-government group, won three seats in the legislature. They represent the grassroots’ voice and are expected to take an aggressive, hardlined stance towards issues such as minimum wage.The Beijing and Hong Kong authorities have been accused of "conspiring" to discourage the public to cast their votes. Only 45% of voters turned out on Sunday, about 10 percent lower than four years ago. The government apparently dislikes a high turnout because it would mean that people want more democracy. It has been working overtime to make sure that people don’t come out to vote. Why is apathy killing those green shoots of democracy in China? The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy parties are dangerously close to losing a productive say in that province’s future. Is it that 55% of the electorate are indifferent to political reform or do they all have an escape route, ie a British or USA passport ?
Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has won a sweeping victory in Pakistan’s presidential election. The election was called after Pervez Musharraf resigned rather than risk being impeached. Mr Zardari faces severe economic problems and a rampant Islamist insurgency that is threatening Pakistan’s stability.
Pakistan expects to receive massive aid in return for its "good performance" in the "war on terror" from washington. However,it is the influence of foreign fighters and al-Qaeda that really worries the authorities in the North West Frontier Province who report that if a military operation had not been launched recently in Bajaur, the area would have been over-run by "Arab, Chechen and Uzbek militants".
There is a sense in India,the world’s largest democracy, that there is more to be gained with a military dictatorship that is all powerful and controls all organs of the Pakistani state, than with a relatively weak civilian administration that may be at odds with the country’s powerful intelligence and a military playing a more autonomous role on issues of relations with India, including support for the Taleban and control over nuclear weapons.
The instability in the tribal areas of Pakistan is spreading into the rest of the country in more dangerous ways as well. It will be difficult for european and north american troops to step up operations in Afghanistan without being sure that the Pakistani-Afghan border is secure. Some reports suggest that the taleban is planning for a 20-year war in Afghanistan ! Which throws up an intriguing possibility regarding the two way traffic of terrorists between Afghanistan and the Chinese province of Xianjiang Uygur. In a country that can mobilise 1 million ‘volenteers’ to combat both blizzard and earthquake what is the chance that half that number could bring a solution to ‘world terrorism’?
FINALLY. . . . .
This year, the U.S. will pick a new president using electronic voting machines. As the November election approaches, the question before officials is not how to fix known bugs in their e-voting systems, but rather, how best to check them for fraud [ie Hacking], said David Wagner, an associate professor with the University of California, Berkeley’s computer science department. With images of Florida 2000,on their minds, apparently county officials have spent billions over the past eight years on electronic voting systems. These systems are supposed to take the guesswork out of vote-counting. The problem is that they are insecure in the opinion of security experts at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. Only about a third of all states have records that are regularly audited. That’s not too promising is it? Commonsense would say that the ability to check whether your voting system has been hacked is of paramount importance. Surely security is not the most important thing,whats more important is that elections can be audited.