Yesterday we analyzed and reported the attitudes of Hong Kongers towards whether pan-democratic District Councillors should take oaths as well as by-elections for vacant seats. The survey was conducted from July 5 to July 8, while news citing government sources proliferated on July 6, stating that incumbent District Councillors who are on the negative allegiance list will have wages and subsidies reclaimed by the government. Sources claim many as 230 democratic District Councillors may be disqualified while at the moment around the same number have resigned.
Hence, timing of the survey allow us to dig deeper in understanding how popular sentiments had been affected by this news. We compared the data obtained in the first two days (July 5, 6) and the last two days (July 7, 8), and removed answers with “don’t know/ have no opinion/it’s hard to tell” to only account for those with an opinion. It turns out that the overall public sentiment has changed significantly and in a clear direction:
1. On whether to swear allegiance or to resign?
- The percentage of respondent who supports District Councillors to take oaths and stay in office dropped from 59% to 39%; the percentage of those who believe that they should resign rose from 41% to 61%.
2. Whether to hold by-elections as soon as possible?
- The percentage that supports “by-elections as soon as possible” dropped from 62% to 57%, and the percentage that disagreed rose from 38% to 43%
3. Whether pan-democrats should participate in a by-election?
- The percentage of people who think that the democrats should “participate in a by-election” has dropped from 61% to 52%, and the percentage of people who disagree has risen from 39% to 48%.
- The changes in these three sets of data are statistically significant. This shows that after the extensive media reports on “leaked government intelligence, public sentiment immediately rebounded. This holds as further confirmation that the recent wave of resignations by pan-democratic District Councillors is consistent with the trend of public sentiment.
Looking to the future, even if the government’s crackdown on the democracy movement and civil society continues, and the system further reduces the space for differing political voices to participate politically, we believe that a relatively large number of Hong Kongers believe the government should conduct District Council by-elections while pan-democrats should continue to participate. The responsibility for causing public expectations to fail is undoubtedly falls on the Hong Kong Government.