sexta-feira, 4 de setembro de 2009

A legislatura ungida de Macau

Macau's Anointed Legislature
A race that's over before it's even begun

September 3, 2009

Macau is gearing up for legislative elections this month, and democrats are trying to gain more seats. It's an uphill battle—not because support for democracy is low, but because the system is rigged against them.

Like July's chief executive election, the Sept. 20 legislative elections will produce a pro-Beijing result. Macau's unicameral legislature has 29 seats elected every four years. Of that number, seven legislators are directly appointed by the Beijing-appointed chief executive, and 10 are chosen by four "special sectors" that group together certain political interest groups. Only 12 legislators are chosen by direct vote. So democrats can never win an outright majority, so long as the appointed candidates tow the Beijing line.

They clearly do so. This year, the special sectors nominated 10 candidates for 10 seats—who were then, by default, elected. Furthermore, a new rule implemented last year by the chief executive effectively bars new groups in the special sectors from voting in the elections, giving outsize power to a few special sector leaders to choose legislators.

Even the direct elections don't represent the will of the people. Macau uses a proportional representation system that makes it almost impossible for any political group to win more than two seats in the legislature. In the 2005 election, the pro-democracy New Democratic Macau Association received the most votes of any group but received only two seats—as many as another association that won half the votes.

Democrats are splitting into two political associations, the Democratic Prosperous Macau Association and the New Democratic Macau Association, to capture more votes. This strategy will probably maintain their two seats and make them competitive for a third or fourth seat, too, because Macau's democracy movement is gaining momentum. Recent corruption scandals have stirred popular discontent. Surveys show that the majority of Macanese support democracy—especially young people.

Macau's legislative elections are one of the few outlets Macanese have to exert choice—even if it's very little—over their political destiny. China may control Macau, but voters can still send a strong signal that they value their freedoms.

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