While half of the 70 seats in the chamber are directly elected by universal suffrage, known as geographical constituency seats, the other half are elected through so-called “functional constituencies,” returned by a mix of individual and corporate votes organized roughly by industry.
It’s a colonial arrangement that still weighs on Hong Kong’s democratization, critics say. “The colonial regime used to co-opt the business elite through the functional constituencies, which allowed them to get a seat in Legco,” said Ma Ngok, a professor of government and public administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The system continues to serve a purpose for Beijing, Ma added, by protecting the Beijing-leaning business sector’s interests. “The Chinese government sees [the functional constituencies] as an important buffer between itself and the pro-democracy legislators returned by universal suffrage,” he said.
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