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From “Occupy Central” to Democracy: Is a Referendum for Hong Kong Feasible and Desirable?

  • Feng Lin (a1) and Daniel Alati (a2)

Abstract

This article seeks to utilize the existing literature on referendums to discuss the current situation in Hong Kong in order to make some theoretical and practical contributions to the field of constitutional studies. Theoretically, it attempts to situate and analyse Hong Kong’s current situation within Professor Tierney’s influential framework on constitutional referendums in order to further develop the constitutional theory in this area. Practically, it analyses, through comparative study, whether (and if so, how) referendums might provide a mechanism through which Hong Kong’s constitutional debate could productively move forward. It concludes by reiterating aspects of the Hong Kong experience that have aligned with, and further contributed to the constitutional theory on referendums and representative democracy. Moreover, it recommends that the Hong Kong Government begin consultations towards the tabling of legislation for a non-binding advisory referendum to be developed in accordance with the lessons learned from the jurisdictions discussed throughout the article.

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Copyright

Footnotes

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*

Professor of Law, Associate Dean, Director of Centre for Chinese and Comparative Law, School of Law, City University of Hong Kong; barrister, Hong Kong; member, Law Reform Commission of Hong Kong; Co-Editor-in-Chief, Asia Pacific Law Review.

**

Hon. B.A., M.A. (Toronto); LL.M. (Osgoode); D.Phil. (Oxon.). Assistant Professor, Department of Criminology, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewer for his valuable and constructive comments.

Footnotes

References

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1. The NPCSC is one of the two national legislative bodies in China and enjoys the final interpretative power of national laws in China under art. 67 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China.

2. Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Issues Relating to the Selection of the Chief Executive in Hong Kong of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by Universal Suffrage and on the Method for Forming the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the Year 2016 (31 August 2014), online: 2017.gov.hk <http://www.2017.gov.hk/filemanager/template/en/doc/20140831b.pdf>.

3. TIERNEY, Stephen, Constitutional Referendums: The Theory and Practice of Republican Deliberation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

4. Ibid. at 23.

5. Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong, 19 December 1984.

6. The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, art. 45, para. 2 [Basic Law].

7. Ibid., Annex I.

8. Ibid., Annex I, art. 7.

9. Ibid., art. 158.

10. Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, The Interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of Article 7 of Annex I and Article III of Annex II to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (6 April 2004), online: basiclaw.gov.hk <http://www.basiclaw.gov.hk/en/basiclawtext/images/basiclawtext_doc18.pdf>.

11. Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Issues Relating to the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the Year 2007 and for Forming the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the Year 2008 (26 April 2004), online: basiclaw.gov.hk <http://www.basiclaw.gov.hk/en/basiclawtext/images/basiclawtext_doc19.pdf>.

12. Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Issues Relating to the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and for Forming the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the Year 2012 and on Issues Relating to Universal Suffrage (29 December 2007), online: basiclaw.gov.hk <http://www.basiclaw.gov.hk/en/basiclawtext/images/basiclawtext_doc21.pdf>.

13. LAM, Jeffie, “Xi Jinping Urges Hongkongers to Show Pragmatism on Political Reform” South China Morning Post (18 December 2013), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1385154/xi-jinping-urges-hong-kong-build-consensus-over-2017-election>.

14. The South China Morning Post provides free access to comprehensive information about the OCM on its website, online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/topics/occupy-central>.

15. “Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, On the Record: Work Together to Achieve Universal Suffrage” HKSAR Government Press Release (7 January 2015), online: news.gov.hk <http://www.news.gov.hk/en/record/html/2015/01/20150107_122445.lin.shtml>.

16. Hong Kong SAR Government, Report on the Public Consultation on the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 and for Forming the Legislative Council in 2016 (July 2014), online: 2017.gov.hk <http://www.2017.gov.hk/filemanager/template/en/doc/report/consultation_report.pdf>.

17. KHAN, Natasha and HU, Fox, “Hong Kong’s ‘Illegal’ Democracy Poll Draws 700,000 Voters” Bloomberg Business (23 June 2014), online: Bloomberg Business <http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-06-22/hong-kong-democracy-poll-draws-one-in-five-voters-by-day-three>.

18. AKINYEMI, Aaron, “Thousands Stage Anti-Occupy Protest in Hong Kong” International Business Times (17 August 2014), online: International Business Times <http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/hundreds-stage-anti-occupy-protest-hong-kong-1461479>.

19. LIU, Juliana, “Thousands of Hong Kong Students Start Week-Long Boycott” BBC News (22 September 2014), online: BBC News <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-29306128>.

20. LAM, Jeffie and ZHAO, Shirley, “‘We Won’t Halt Occupy Central’: Benny Tai Says Era of Civil Disobedience Is Here to Stay” South China Morning Post (4 September 2014), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1584360/we-wont-stop-occupy-central-benny-tai-says-era-civil-disobedience>; NG, Joyce, SO, Peter, CHEUNG, and Gary, “Pan-Democratic Parties Threaten to Boycott Electoral Reform Consultation” South China Morning Post (6 September 2014), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1586253/pan-democratic-parties-threaten-boycott-electoral-reform-consultation>.

21. SUNG, Timmy, KAO, Ernest, CHEUNG, and Tony, “Occupy Central Is On: Benny Tai Rides Wave of Student Protest to Launch Movement” South China Morning Post (28 September 2014), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1601625/hong-kong-students-beat-us-it-benny-tai-declares-start-occupy-central?page=all>.

22. “Xuelian yu Bagong, Wuxianqi Tingke (學聯籲罷工 無限期停課) [HKFS Calls for Labour Strike and Indefinite Suspension of Class]” Dushi Ribao(都市日報) [Metro Daily] (29 September 2014) at P08.

23. Hong Kong SAR Government, Report on the Recent Community and Political Situation in Hong Kong (January 2013), online: 2017.gov.hk <http://www.2017.gov.hk/filemanager/template/en/doc/rcps_report/rcps_report.pdf at para. 2.10>.

24. Ibid. at para. 2.11.

25. Staff Reporters, “OCCUPY CENTRAL – THE DEBATE: Full Coverage of the Student-Government Talks” South China Morning Post (21 October 2014), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1621141/live-hong-kong-students-prepare-meet-government-officials-democracy?page=all>.

26. HUI, Echo, “Foes of Hong Kong Democracy Protests Claim Petition Drive Success” Los Angeles Times (3 November 2014), online: Los Angeles Times <http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-hong-kong-protest-foes-20141103-story.html>.

27. Associated Press, “Hong Kong Protesters Face Arrest After Court Rules on Evictions” The Guardian (11 November 2014), online: The Guardian <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/11/hong-kong-protesters-face-arrest-court-ruling>.

28. BRANIGAN, Tania, “Hong Kong Student Leaders Arrested as Police Try to Clear Protest Zone” The Guardian (26 November 2014), online: The Guardian <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/26/hong-kong-student-leaders-arrested-police-attempt-clear-protest-zone>.

29. CHEUNG, Tony and SUNG, Timmy, “Police Let Occupy Organisers Walk Away Without Charge After They Turn Themselves In” South China Morning Post (3 December 2014), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1654634/no-regrets-says-occupys-benny-tai-he-prepares-hand-himself-police?page=all>.

30. SUDWORTH, John, “Hong Kong Protests: Arrests as Admiralty Site Is Cleared” BBC News (11 December 2014), online: BBC News <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-30426346>.

31. KWOK, Donny, “Hong Kong Police Clear Last Pro-Democracy Protest Site” Reuters (15 December 2014), online: Reuters <http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/15/us-hongkong-china-idUSKBN0JT07020141215>.

32. Tierney, supra note 3 at 8.

33. NG, Joyce, “Occupy Central Founders Vow to Keep Fighting for Democracy in Hong Kong” South China Morning Post (18 December 2014), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/664640/occupy-founders-next-step-ensuring-cy-leungs-election-reform-package?page=all>.

34. Staff Reporters, “Hong Kong Begins Second Consultation on Electoral Reform” South China Morning Post (7 January 2015), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1675987/pan-democrats-hoist-umbrellas-carrie-lam-announces-new-political?page=all> [Staff Reporters, “Second Consultation”].

35. LAU, Stuart, “Basic Law Expert Albert Chen Tries to Steer Middle Road on Reform for Hong Kong Chief Executive Election” South China Morning Post (26 January 2015), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1691393/basic-law-expert-albert-chen-tries-steer-middle-road-reform-hong-kong>.

36. LAU, Kenneth, “Ho Spells Out when He Will Resign” The Standard (12 January 2015), online: The Standard <http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=11&art_id=153108&sid=43672009&con_type=1>.

37. Hong Kong SAR Government, Method for Selecting the Chief Executive by Universal Suffrage: Consultation Report and Proposals (22 April 2015), online: 2017.gov.hk <http://www.2017.gov.hk/filemanager/template/en/doc/report_2nd/consultation_report_2nd.pdf>.

38. Staff Reporters, “Second Consultation”, supra note 34.

39. CHEUNG, Tony and Ying-Kit, LAI, “Carrie Lam Says Reform Package Is no Endgame for Hong Kong Democracy” South China Morning Post (30 April 2015), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/1781643/carrie-lam-says-reform-package-no-endgame-hong-kong>.

40. Ibid.

41. LUK, Eddie, “Massive Poll to Check Views on Reform Plan” The Standard (22 April 2015), online: The Standard <http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?we_cat=4&art_id=156318&sid=44310291&con_type=1&d_str=20150422&fc=4>.

42. LIU, Louis, “CE Cautions People About Polls” China Daily (13 May 2015), online: China Daily Asia <http://www.chinadailyasia.com/hknews/2015-05/13/content_15263076.html>.

43. Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, s. 128.

44. Ibid.

45. Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 (Austl).

46. Australian Electoral Commission, “Referendum Dates and Results”, online: Australian Electoral Commission <http://www.aec.gov.au/elections/referendums/Referendum_Dates_and_Results.htm> (updated 24 October 2012) [Australian Electoral Commission, “Referendum Dates and Results”].

47. Australian Electoral Commission, “What Are Referendums and Plebiscites?”, online: Australian Electoral Commission <http://www.aec.gov.au/elections/referendums/types.htm> (updated 9 September 2015).

48. ORR, Graeme, “The Conduct of Referenda and Plebiscites in Australia: A Legal Perspective” (2000) 11 Public Law Review 117 at 119.

49. Ibid. at 122. See e.g. Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 (Austl); Referendums Act 1997 (Qld); Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1994 (ACT).

50. Clarity Act, SC 2000, c. 26.

51. Referendum Act, SC 1992, c. 30.

52. Canada Elections Act, SC 2000, c. 9.

53. Elections Canada, “Referendums in Canada”, online: Elections Canada <http://www.elections.ca/res/eim/article_search/article.asp?id=87&lang=e&frmPageSize> [Elections Canada, “Referendums”].

54. Elections Canada,Compendium of Election Administration in Canada: A Comparative Overview (As of June 27, 2012) (2012) at 103, online: Elections Canada <http://www.elections.ca/res/loi/com/arc/com2012/compoverview2012jun_e.pdf> [Elections Canada, Compendium].

55. Elections Canada, “Referendums”, supra note 53.

56. Ibid.

57. Elections Canada, Compendium, supra note 54 at 103.

58. Ibid. at 103.

59. Ibid. at 103-104.

60. Ibid.

61. Reference re Secession of Quebec, [1998] 2 SCR 217.

62. Ibid. at 220.

63. Ibid. at 221.

64. Ibid.

65. Scottish Independence Referendum Act, 2013 (UK), asp 14 [SIRA]. While analysis here focuses on the Scottish referendum, it should be noted that only two UK-wide referendums have ever been held (the 1975 UK European Communities Membership Referendum and the 2011 UK Alternative Vote Referendum). These referendums were regulated by two pieces of legislation: UK Referendum Act, 1975 (UK) and Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, 2011 (UK), c. 1.

66. UK Government, Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013: Explanatory Notes (2013), online: legislation.gov.uk <http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2013/14/notes/data.pdf>.

67. HM Government/Scottish Government, Agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government on a Referendum on Independence for Scotland, 15 October 2012, online: The Scottish Government <http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/Government/concordats/Referendum-on-independence> [Edinburgh Agreement].

68. Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, 2000 (UK), c. 41 [PPERA].

69. Edinburgh Agreement, supra note 67.

70. New Zealand Electoral Commission, “Referenda”, online: New Zealand Electoral Commission <http://www.elections.org.nz/voting-system/referenda>.

71. Ibid.

72. Ibid.

73. Electoral Act 1993 (NZ), art. 268(2).

74. Its Constitution is not entrenched.

75. Electoral Act 1993 (NZ), art. 268(2).

76. Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993 (NZ).

77. New Zealand Electoral Commission, supra note 70.

78. New Zealand Parliament, “Citizens Initiated Referenda”, online: New Zealand Parliament <http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/about-parliament/get-involved/referendum/summary/00CLOOC_ReferendumProposals_1/citizens-initiated-referenda>. The Act allows 28 days for submissions and three months in total for the determination of the final wording of the question.

79. Ibid.

80. Constitution fédérale (18 April 1999), RO 101, art. 136(2).

81. Ibid., art. 138(1).

82. Swiss Authorities Online, “Popular Initiatives”, online: Swiss Authorities Online <http://www.ch.ch/en/popular-initiatives>.

83. Ibid.

84. Constitution fédérale ,supra note 80, art. 140(1).

85. Ibid., art. 141.

86. Ibid.

87. Ibid.

88. Initiative and Referendum Institute, University of Southern California, What Are Ballot Propositions, Initiatives, and Referendums?”, online: Initiative and Referendum Institute, University of Southern California <http://www.iandrinstitute.org/Quick%20Fact%20-%20What%20is%20I&R.htm#Popular_referendum>.

89. Ibid.

90. Ibid.

91. Ibid.

92. Constitution of California, art. II, s. 1.

93. Ibid. art. II, § 8.

94. Ibid.

95. California Secretary of State, “Referendum”, online: California Secretary of State <https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/referenda.htm> [California Secretary of State, “Referendum”].

96. Constitution of California, supra note 92, art. II, § 10-11.

97. California Secretary of State, “Referendum”, supra note 95.

98. California Secretary of State, “Statewide Initiative Guide”, online: California Secretary of State <http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/how-qualify-initiative/initiative-guide/>, which extensively details each procedure that needs to be followed at every step of the process.

99. Ibid.

100. Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan), arts. 17, 123, and 136, online: Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China <http://law.moj.gov.tw/Eng/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?PCode=A0000001>.

101. KAO, Milly Ming-Tzu, “The Referendum Phenomenon in Taiwan – Solidification of Taiwan Consciousness?” (2004) XLV(4) Asian Survey 591.

102. LIN, Jih-wen, “Taiwan’s Referendum Act and the Stability of the Status Quo” (2004) 40(2) Issues & Studies 16-17. Referendum Act, art. 2, online: Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China <http://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?PCode=D0020050>.

103. Ibid.

104. Referendum Act, art. 2, para. 3.

105. Referendum Act, art. 2, para. 4.

106. Detailed information about the CEC can be found in its website, online: Central Election Commission <http://engweb.cec.gov.tw/files/11-1030-3863.php>.

107. Lin, supra note 102.

108. Ibid.

109. Referendum Act, art. 16.

110. Ibid., art. 10.

111. Ibid., art. 12.

112. Ibid., art. 30. See also Lin, supra note 102.

113. Tierney, supra note 3 at 104.

114. See Part III.B. below for a discussion of the political feasibility of referenda in Hong Kong.

115. Tierney, supra note 3 at 23.

116. As such, it follows Tierney’s observation that direct democracy can supplement and sometimes supplant representative democracy. Ibid. at 1.

117. Australian Electoral Commission, “Referendum Dates and Results, supra note 46.

118. The first, the Constitution Alteration (Establishment of Republic) 1999, would have amended the Constitution to create a republic, and replaced the Queen and Governor-General with a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament. The second, the Constitution Alteration (Preamble) 1999, proposed to alter the Constitution by inserting provisions into the preamble. Australian Electoral Commission, “1999 Referendum Report and Statistics”, online: Australian Electoral Commission <http://www.aec.gov.au/elections/referendums/1999_Referendum_Reports_Statistics/> (updated 24 October 2012).

119. Ibid.

120. Constitution Alteration (Establishment of Republic) Bill 1999 (Austl). Constitution Alteration (Preamble) Bill 1999 (Austl).

121. KILDEA, Paul and WILLIAMS, George, “Reworking Australia’s Referendum Machinery” (2010) 35(1) Alternative Law Journal 6 at 22-26. Kildea and Williams argue that any information pamphlet needs to be supplemented by other methods of communicating information to voters.

122. Ibid. at 23-24.

123. LUSKIN, Robertet al., “Deliberation and Referendum Voting”, online: CiteSeerX <http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=F89D8C07FA5C1757A2D5290F3605002A?doi=10.1.1.176.7024&rep=rep1&type=pdf>.

124. KILDEA, Paul, “Worth Talking About? Modest Constitutional Amendment and Citizen Deliberation in Australia” (2013) 12(4) Election Law Journal 524 at 537.

125. Elections Canada, “Referendums”, supra note 53.

126. The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Referendum”, online: The Canadian Encyclopaedia <http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/referendum/>.

127. Pierre Marquis, Referendums in Canada: The Effect of Populist Decision-Making on Representative Democracy, Background Paper BP-328E (Ottawa: Library of Parliament, August 1993), online: Government of Canada Publications <http://open.canada.ca/vl/en/doc/publications-301933>.

128. Ibid.

129. Ibid. at 3.

130. Ibid.

131. Ibid. at 15.

132. DEBARDELEBEN, Joan and PAMMETT, Jon, Activating the Citizen: Dilemmas of Participation in Europe and Canada (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) at 234.

133. GUIBERNAU, Montserrat, ROCHER, Francois, and ADAM, Elisenda Casanas, “Introduction: A Special Section on Self-Determination and the Use of Referendums: Catalonia, Quebec and Scotland” (2014) 27 International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 1 at 1-2.

134. TELFORD, Hamish, “The Province that Cried Wolf: Quebec and the Future of Canada” (2013) 102 The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs 97 at 98.

135. LEDUC, Lawrence, “Electoral Reform and Direct Democracy in Canada: When Citizens Become Involved” (2011) 34(3) West European Politics 551 at 552.

136. UK Parliament, “Referendums Held in the UK”, online: UK Parliament <http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/elections/referendums-held-in-the-uk/>.

137. Ibid.; UK, HC, “AV and Electoral Reform”, Standard Note: SN/PC/05317 (12 July 2011) at 3, online: UK Parliament <http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN05317/SN05317.pdf>.

138. Ibid. at 4.

139. Ibid. at 14. The key arguments forwarded by the “No” campaign were that AV was costly, complex, and unfair, and would result in more hung Parliaments and backroom dealings, while the “Yes” campaign argued that the AV system would target the complacency of “career politicians”, give voters a bigger say in who their local member of Parliament (MP) was by allowing them to rank favourites in order, and would lead to more MPs being elected with more than 50 percent of the vote. Ibid. at 16.

140. Ibid. at 15.

141. Ibid.

142. UK, HC, “Alternative Vote Referendum 2011: Analysis of Results”, Research Paper 11/44 (19 May 2011), online: UK Parliament <http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/RP11-44/RP11-44.pdf>: This paper provides full analysis and discussion of the results of this referendum.

143. Ibid.

144. UK Government Scotland Office, “Scottish Independence Referendum – What’s Next?” (19 September 2014), online: UK Government <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/scottish-independence-referendum-whats-next>.

145. Ibid.

146. Scottish Government, Choosing Scotland’s Future: A National Conversation: Independence and Responsibility in the Modern World (August 2007), online: Scottish Government <http://www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/194791/0052321.pdf>.

147. Commission on Scottish Devolution, The Future of Scottish Devolution within the Union: A First Report (December 2008), online: BBC News <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/02_12_08_calman.pdf>.

148. Commission on Scottish Devolution, Serving Scotland Better: Scotland and the United Kingdom in the 21st Century: Final Report (June 2009), online: BBC News <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/15_06_09_calman.pdf>.

149. Scottish Government, Your Scotland, Your Voice: A National Conversation (November 2009), online: Scottish Government <http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/293639/0090721.pdf>.

150. Scottish Government, Your Scotland, Your Referendum (January 2012), online: Scottish Government <http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0038/00386122.pdf>.

151. Scotland Act 2012 (UK), c. 11.

152. The Draft Section 30 order is approved by the Scottish Parliament in December 2012, and then by the UK House of Commons and House of Lords in January of 2013.

153. Scottish Government, The Scottish Independence Bill: A Consultation on an Interim Constitution for Scotland (June 2014), online: Scottish Government <http://www.scotland.gov.uk/resource/0045/00452762.pdf>.

154. “Scottish Independence: Cameron, Miliband and Clegg Sign ‘No’ Vote Pledge” BBC News (16 September 2014), online: BBC News <http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-29213418>.

155. JGALLAGHER, im, “The Day After Judgment: Scotland and the UK After the Referendum” (29 September 2014) Policy Scotland Research Paper, online: Policy Scotland, University of Glasgow <http://policyscotland.gla.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/THE-DAY-AFTER-JUDGEMENT-final.pdf>.

156. Ibid. at Preface.

157. TOMKINS, Adam, “Scotland’s Choice, Britain’s Future” (2014) 130 The Law Quarterly Review 215 at 230.

158. Ibid. at 228.

159. QVORTRUP, Matt, “The Neverendum? A History of Referendums and Independence” (2013) 4(2) Political Insight 4 at 6; QVORTRUP, Matt, Referendums and Ethnic Conflict (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) at 141-142.

160. TIERNEY, Stephen and SUTEU, Silvia, “Towards a Democratic and Deliberative Referendum? Analysing the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill and the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise Bill)” (21 August 2013), online: Scottish Constitutional Futures Forum <http://www.scottishconstitutionalfutures.org/portals/29/tierney%20and%20suteu.pdf>.

161. New Zealand Electoral Commission, supra note 70.

162. New Zealand Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, “Chapter 41: Referendums” (14 October 2010), online: New Zealand Parliament <http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/about-parliament/how-parliament-works/ppnz/00HOOOCPPNZ_411/chapter-41-referendums>.The binding effect of a referendum is achieved by the enactment of a “statutory trigger”, i.e. specific wording within the legislation.

163. Electoral Referendum Act 1993 (NZ).

164. Electoral Referendum Act 2010 (NZ).

165. New Zealand Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, supra note 162.

166. On a compulsory retirement savings scheme in 1997, changes in term limits in both 1967 and 1990, and changes to the electoral system in 1992.

167. In other words, “[i]n each case it would have been necessary for the Parliament to have passed further legislation giving effect to the electorate’s wishes”. New Zealand Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, supra note 162.

168. Electoral Referendum Act 1991 (NZ).

169. New Zealand Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, supra note 162.

170. Electoral Act 1993 (NZ).

171. New Zealand Electoral Commission, supra note 70. The 1992 non-binding referendum resulted in a 84.7 percent vote in favour of change, with 70.5 percent voting for that change to be to a Mixed Member Plurality system.

172. Ibid.

173. Ibid.

174. HAYWARD, J., “Rethinking Electoral Reform in New Zealand: The Benefits of Citizens’ Assemblies” (2014) 9 New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online 11 at 12.

175. Ibid.

176. BANDUCCI, Susan, DONOVAN, Todd, and KARP, Jeffrey A., “Proportional Representation and Attitudes About Politics: Results From New Zealand” (1999) 18(4) Electoral Studies 533 at 534.

177. Ibid. at 537.

178. Linder provides a full listing of all Swiss referenda and initiative from 1848-2006. See LINDER, Wolf, Swiss Democracy: Possible Solutions to Conflict in Multicultural Societies, 3rd rev. ed. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) at 19.

179. Ibid. at 101.

180. LADNER, Andreas, “Switzerland: Subsidiarity, Power-sharing, and Direct Democracy” in John LOUGHLIN, Frank HENDRIKS, and Anders LIDSTROEM, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Local and Regional Democracy in Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 196 at 199.

181. Ibid. at 205-206.

182. See Linder, supra note 178 at 102 (noting that from 1848 to 2006, 2260 Bills were subject to referendums although only 73 such challenges were successful).

183. Ibid. at 103-104.

184. Ibid. at 122.

185. California Secretary of State, “Statewide Initiative Guide”, supra note 98.

186. California Secretary of State, “Referendum”, supra note 95.

187. Ibid. These were related to the reapportionment of Congressional or Senate districts.

188. California Secretary of State, “History of California Initiatives”, online: California Secretary of State <http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/resources-and-historical-information/history-california-initiatives/>.

189. Ibid. For example: a 2010 vote increasing the legislative vote requirement to two-thirds for state levies and charges; a 1998 vote limiting congressional terms; a 1996 vote on campaign contributions and spending limits; and several votes on reapportionment of Congressional or Senate districts.

190. GORDON, Tracy, The Local Initiative in California (Public Policy Institute of California, 2004), online: Public Policy Institute of California <http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_904TGR.pdf>.

191. DAMORE, David, BOWLER, Shaun, and NICHOLSON, Stephen P., “Agenda Setting by Direct Democracy: Comparing the Initiative and the Referendum” (2012) 12(4) State Politics & Policy Quarterly 367 at 369.

192. GENDZEL, Glen, “The People Versus the Octopus: California Progressives and the Origins of Direct Democracy” (2013) 37 Siècles 2 at 6.

193. TWOMEY, Anne, “Dangerous Democracy – Citizens’ Initiated Referenda in California” (2010) Sydney Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10/116 at 2, online: Social Science Research Network (SSRN) <http://ssrn.com/abstract=1703201>.

194. Ibid. at 2-3.

195. Ibid.

196. See, online: Central Election Commission <http://engweb.cec.gov.tw/files/11-1030-3863.php>.

197. “Profile: Chen Shui-bian” BBC News (11 June 2010), online: BBC News <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2172980.stm>.

198. See the official statement issued by Chinese Government on 20 March 2004: LI Si, “Taiwan Dangju Zhiyi Juban Suowei ‘Heping Gongtou’ (臺灣當局執意舉辦所謂‘和平公投’) [The Authorities in Taiwan Insist on Holding the So-Called ‘Peaceful Referendum’]” Lishi shang de Jintian (歷史上的今天) [Today on History] (10 July 2012), online: Today on History <http://www.todayonhistory.com/3/20/TaiWanDangJuZhiYiJuBanSuoWei-HePingGongTou.html>.

199. Xinhua News Agency, “Referendum of Taiwan Independence Criticized” china.org.cn (6 August 2002), online: china.org.cn <http://www.china.org.cn/english/2002/Aug/38721.htm>. US President George Bush also objected to the referendum because he did not want to upset the status quo between the two governments. Corbett B. DALY and Greg ROBB, “Bush Opposes Taiwan Referendum” MarketWatch (9 December 2003), online: MarketWatch <http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bush-says-us-opposes-taiwan-independence-referendum>.

200. Xinhua News Agency, “Zhongfang Xiwang Mei Ri Qieshi Lüxing Buzhichi ‘Taidu’ Chengnuo (中方希望美日切實履行不支持‘台獨’承諾) [China Hopes the US Would Duly Honour Its Promise of not Supporting ‘Taiwan Independence’]” Sohu Xinwen (搜狐新聞) [Sohu News] (21 March 2008), online: Sohu News <http://news.sohu.com/20080321/n255845284.shtml>.

201. See, online: Central Election Commission <http://engweb.cec.gov.tw/files/11-1030-3863.php>; HUANG, Chi, “Referendum and Democracy: The Experience of Taiwan” in Philip PAOLINO and James MEERNIK, eds., Democratization in Taiwan: Challenges in Transformation (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 121 at 125; Lin, supra note 102 at 145.

202. FUNG, Fanny and LEUNG, Ambrose, “Five Quit to Force ‘Referendum’ Despite Mounting Criticism” South China Morning Post (27 January 2010), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/article/704719/five-quit-force-referendum-despite-mounting-criticism>.

203. Ibid.

204. Ibid.

205. GHAI, Yash, “Putting the Cat Among the Pigeons: The Politics of the Referendum” (2004) 34 Hong Kong Law Journal 433.

206. Ibid. at 435-436.

207. LAM, Jeffie, “Democratic Party Caught in Dilemma over Albert Ho’s ‘Referendum’ Plan” South China Morning Post (3 February 2015), online: South China Morning Post <http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1701140/democratic-party-caught-dilemma-over-albert-hos-referendum-plan> (on file with the authors).

208. Tierney, supra note 3 at 6.

209. Ghai, supra note 205 at 441.

210. Ibid.

211. Ibid. at 444.

212. The authors note that in 1993 only one-third of the electorate agreed that they could trust government to do what was right most of the time, while confidence in parliament declined from 33 percent in 1975 to single figures by 1988. See Banducci, Donovan, and Karp, supra note 176 at 534.

213. Tierney, supra note 3 at 8.

214. “1.2 Million People Took Part in Occupy Protests, Poll Shows” ejinsight on the pulse (19 December 2014), online: ejinsight on the pulse <http://www.ejinsight.com/20141229-1.2-million-people-took-part-in-occupy-protests-poll-shows/>.

215. CHEN, Albert, “Ideas for Post-Occupy Political Reform” HKU Legal Scholarship Blog (25 December 2014), online: HKU Legal Scholarship Blog <http://researchblog.law.hku.hk/2014/12/albert-chen-on-ideas-for-post-occupy.html>.

216. YOUNG, Simon, “Realising Universal Suffrage in Hong Kong after the Standing Committee’s Decision” (2014) 44 Hong Kong Law Journal 689.

217. Basic Law, supra note 6, art. 74.

218. Ibid.

219. Ibid., Annex II.

220. Ibid.

221. For more information on the UK Electoral Commission, see, online: UK Electoral Commission <http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/>.

222. Ibid. at 7.

* Professor of Law, Associate Dean, Director of Centre for Chinese and Comparative Law, School of Law, City University of Hong Kong; barrister, Hong Kong; member, Law Reform Commission of Hong Kong; Co-Editor-in-Chief, Asia Pacific Law Review.

** Hon. B.A., M.A. (Toronto); LL.M. (Osgoode); D.Phil. (Oxon.). Assistant Professor, Department of Criminology, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewer for his valuable and constructive comments.

From “Occupy Central” to Democracy: Is a Referendum for Hong Kong Feasible and Desirable?

  • Feng Lin (a1) and Daniel Alati (a2)

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