HKU POP SITE releases POP-NOW survey on political reform for the 10th timeBack

 
Press Release on June 14, 2010

| Background | Latest Figures | Commentary |


Background

Since its establishment in 1991, the Public Opinion Programme (POP) at the University of Hong Kong has been conducting different types of opinion studies on social and political issues, as well as providing research services for different organizations, on condition that POP would design and conduct all studies independently, and could also release the findings for public consumption. In November 2009, POP came into agreement with the "now News Channel" for a project called "Joint Public Opinion Research Project on Political Reform". The main objective of the project is to demonstrate, by focusing on ongoing discussions of political reform, how independent research institute and professional news media investigate, analyze, report and comment on public opinion, including the explanation and promotion of professional ethics of opinion studies. The project comprises regular and ad-hoc opinion surveys and other opinion studies after the launching of public consultation by the government. The survey results will first be released in the "now News Channel", followed by POP press releases for public consumption. "now News Channel" agrees to POP uploading these programmes to the POP Site for public education, while POP agrees that "now News Channel" uses these findings for productions without POP's involvement. There has been a total of nine releases of survey findings from December 2009 to May 2010.

Given that Legco will soon vote on the 2012 political reform package, this project has therefore conducted a large-scale survey in early June using 15 questions to measure people's support of the package and their views on universal suffrage from different perspectives. Some of the questions come from POP's previous surveys, including the "2007 Political Reform Survey Series". For details of this series, please refer to the "Political Reform Feature Page" of the POP Site at "http://hkupop.hku.hk/english/features/political_reform/". Today's release is the tenth one of the joint project between POP and now News Channel on political reform. Please cite the source of the figures when using them.


Latest Figures

The latest survey findings released by POP through now News Channel today have been weighted according to the provisional figures obtained from the Census and Statistics Department regarding the gender-age distribution of the Hong Kong population in 2009 year-end. Herewith the contact information for the latest survey:

Date of survey

Sample base

Overall response rate

Sampling error of percentages [1]

8-10/6/2010

1,026

66.2%

+/-3%

[1] Errors are calculated at 95% confidence level."95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified.


I. Overall awareness towards political reform

Date of survey

19-23/11/09

29/1-2/2/10

8-10/6/2010

Latest change

Sample base

1,001

1,003

1,026

--

Overall response rate

76.7%

65.4%

66.2%

--

Error (at 95% confidence level)[2]

+/-3%

+/-3%

+/-3%

--

Q1. In April this year, the Government announced its political reform proposals on the elections of Chief Executive and Legislative Council in 2012. How much do you know about the proposals?[3]

Much

8%

9%

16+/-2%

+7%[4]

Half-half

17%

15%

18+/-2%

+3%[4]

Little

68%

70%

65+/-3%

-5%[4]

Don't know/ hard to say

7%

6%

2+/-1%

-4%[4]

Mean value[3]

1.9 +/-0.1
(Base = 932)

1.9 +/-0.1
(Base = 939)

2.1 +/-0.1
(Base =1,004)

+0.2[4]

[2] All error figures in the table are calculated at 95% confidence level. "95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified.
[3] Collapsed from a 5-point scale. The mean value is calculated by quantifying all individual responses into 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 marks according to their degree of positive level, where 1 is the lowest and 5 the highest, and then calculate the sample mean. The question wordings in the surveys of November 2009 and February 2010 were "In November 2009, the Government announced its consultation papers on the elections of Chief Executive and Legislative Council in 2012. How much do you know about the proposals?".
[4] Such changes have gone beyond the sampling errors at the 95% confidence level, meaning that they are statistically significant prima facie. However, whether numerical differences are statistically significant or not is not the same as whether they are practically useful or meaningful.


Date of survey

4-7/9/07

2-5/10/07

22-25/10/07

5-9/11/07

8-10/6/2010

Latest change

Sample base

1,025

1,008

1,016

1,009

1,026

--

Overall response rate

66.0%

65.4%

67.4%

66.3%

66.2%

--

Error (at 95% confidence level)[5]

+/-3%

+/-3%

+/-3%

+/-3%

+/-3%

--

Q2. Article 45 of Basic Law states that the method for selecting the Chief Executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the HKSAR and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage. Which year do you think the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage should be implemented? [interviewers read out first 4 answers]

2012年

55%

58%

53%

54%

44+/-3%

-10%[6]

2017年

27%

26%

30%

30%

40+/-3%

+10%[6]

2022年

5%

5%

4%

5%

5+/-1%

--

2027 or later

5%

3%

4%

5%

5+/-1%

--

Don't support universal suffrage of CE

--

--

--

--

<1+/-1%

--

Don't know/ hard to say

8%

7%

9%

7%

5+/-1%

-2%[6]

Q3. Article 68 of Basic Law states that the method for forming the Legislative Council shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the election of all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage. Which year do you think the selection of Legislative Councillors by universal suffrage should be implemented? [interviewers read out first 5 answers]

2012年

64%

67%

57%

60%

48+/-3%

-12%[6]

2016年

17%

18%

23%

21%

29+/-3%

+8%[6]

2020年

6%

4%

6%

7%

12+/-2%

+5%[6]

2024年

2%

2%

2%

2%

3+/-1%

+1%

2028 or later

4%

2%

3%

3%

3+/-1%

--

Don't know/ hard to say

8%

7%

9%

7%

4+/-1%

-3%[6]

[5] All error figures in the table are calculated at 95% confidence level. "95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified.
[6] Such changes have gone beyond the sampling errors at the 95% confidence level, meaning that they are statistically significant prima facie. However, whether numerical differences are statistically significant or not is not the same as whether they are practically useful or meaningful.


Our latest survey shows that 16% of respondents were knowledgeable about the political reform proposals on the elections of Chief Executive and Legislative Council in 2012 announced by the Government in April this year, 65% said they knew little about them. If only given the choices of years 2012, 2017, 2022 and 2027, 44% would prefer implementing the selection of CE by universal suffrage in 2012, while 40% chose "2017". The percentages of people who opted for "2022", "2027" and "don't know/hard to say" are 5% each. Regarding the return of Legislative Councillors by universal suffrage, if only given the choices of years 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024 and 2028, 48% would prefer implementing the selection of Legislative Councillors by universal suffrage in 2012, while 29% chose "2016". The percentages of people who opted for "2020", "2024", "2028" and "don't know/hard to say" are 12%, 3%, 3% and 4% correspondingly.


II. Opinions towards CE election in 2012

Date of survey

15-21/4/10[9]

26-29/4/10

18-20/5/10

8-10/6/2010

Latest change

Sample base

543

1,010

1,015

1,026

--

Overall response rate

67.6%

69.5%

72.5%

66.2%

--

Error (at 95% confidence level)[7]

+/-4%

+/-3%

+/-3%

+/-3%

--

Q4. For the Chief Executive election in 2012, the Government now proposes that the representatives of Election Committee should be increased from 800 to 1,200 with around 100 representatives returned through election by elected District Council members from among themselves. Besides, every 150 Committee members can nominate 1 Chief Executive candidate, that is, the nomination threshold is set at the ratio of one-eighth of the total membership of the Election Committee. How much do you support or oppose this proposal? [7]

Support

41%

44%

39%

41+/-3%

+2%

Half-half

10%

10%

10%

7+/-2%

-3%[8]

Oppose

33%

29%

34%

43+/-3%

+9%[8]

Don't know/ hard to say

16%

16%

16%

8+/-2%

-8%[8]

Mean value[3]

3.0 +/-0.1
(Base=456)

3.1 +/-0.1
(Base=842)

3.0 +/-0.1
(Base=844)

2.8 +/-0.1
(Base=938)

-0.2[8]

Q5. In 2005, the Government proposed to increase the representatives of Election Committee from 800 to 1,600, which covered all District Councillors including those returned through election and about 100 appointed councilors. Right now, the Government has proposed to increase the representatives to 1,200 whereas all appointed District Councillors are excluded. Do you consider the element of democracy in this proposal has moved forward or backward compared with the previous one?

Forward

-- -- --

47+/-3%

--

Backward

-- -- --

35+/-3%

--

No difference

-- -- --

4+/-1%

--

Don't know/ hard to say

-- -- --

14+/-2%

--

Q6. Based on the existing proposal, do you expect how big or small is the chance of becoming CE candidates for people outside the establishment camp, including the pan-democrats? [7]

Big

-- -- --

13+/-2%

--

Half-half

-- -- --

7+/-2%

--

Small

-- -- --

70+/-3%

--

Don't know/ hard to say

-- -- --

10+/-2%

--

Q7. After having balanced all the factors, do you think the Legco should pass or veto the proposal of CE election in 2012?

Should pass

-- -- --

49+/-3%

--

Should veto

-- -- --

42+/-3%

--

Don't know/ hard to say

-- -- --

9+/-2%

--

[7] Collapsed from a 5-point scale. The mean value is calculated by quantifying all individual responses into 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 marks according to their degree of positive level, where 1 is the lowest and 5 the highest, and then calculate the sample mean. All error figures in the table are calculated at 95% confidence level. "95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified.
[8] Such changes have gone beyond the sampling errors at the 95% confidence level, meaning that they are statistically significant prima facie. However, whether numerical differences are statistically significant or not is not the same as whether they are practically useful or meaningful.
[9] Survey was sponsored by Ming Pao and the result was released on April 30.


With respect to the Government's proposal of Chief Executive election in 2012, results showed that 41% of the respondents supported and 43% opposed this proposal. Comparing this year's package with that of 2005, 47% said it was a progress while 35% said it has moved backward. Under the current proposal, 13% believed that people outside the establishment camp would have big chance of getting a CE candidature while 70% thought their chance is small. After having balanced all the factors, 49% of the respondents think that the Legco should pass the proposal of CE election while 42% think the Legco should veto it.


III. Opinions towards Legco election in 2012

Q8. For the Legislative Council election in 2012, the Government now proposes that there should be 5 more seats of geographical constituencies and 5 more seats of functional constituencies, so the total would be 70 seats. How much do you support or oppose this proposal?[10]

Very much support
11+/-2%

Quite support
34+/-3%

Half-half
6+/-1%

Quite oppose
18+/-2%

Very much oppose
24+/-3%

Don't know
7+/-2%

Total
100%

Support 45+/-3%

Oppose 43+/-3%

Q9. The Government also proposes that 6 of the new seats would be returned through election by elected District Council members by proportional representation, while existing functional seats remain unchanged. How much do you support or oppose this proposal?[10]

Very much support
8+/-2%

Quite support
35+/-3%

Half-half
5+/-1%

Quite oppose
22+/-3%

Very much oppose
21+/-3%

Don't know
9+/-2%

Total
100%

Support 43+/-3%

Oppose 43+/-3%

Q11. After having balanced all the factors, do you think the Legco should pass or veto the proposal of Legco election in 2012?

Should pass 49+/-3% Should veto 41+/-3%

Don't know
10+/-2%

Total
100%

Date of survey

14-17/12/09

23-25/3/10

8-10/6/2010

Latest change

Sample base

1,000

1,012

1,026

--

Overall response rate

70.5%

69.3%

66.2%

--

Error (at 95% confidence level)[11]

+/-3%

+/-3%

+/-3%

--

Q10. Regarding the retention or abolition of the Legislative Council functional constituencies, it is proposed that this issue should be discussed after the political reform proposal is passed. But it is also proposed that this issue should be discussed first, and then to vote for the political reform proposal. Which of the above suggestions do you agree more with? [13]

Discuss the issue before voting

48%

49%

55+/-3%

+6%[12]

Discuss the issue after voting

33%

32%

39+/-3%

+7%[12]

Don't know/ hard to say

20%

19%

7+/-2%

-12%[12]

[10] The mean value of both questions is 2.9 marks (sampling error is +/-0.1). They are calculated by quantifying all individual responses into 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 marks according to their degree of positive level, where 1 is the lowest and 5 the highest, and then calculate the sample mean. The question wordings in previous series were "For the Legislative Council election in 2012, the Government now proposes that there should be 5 more seats of geographical constituencies and 5 more seats of functional constituencies, so the total would be 70 seats. Among them, 6 seats would be returned through election by elected District Council members by proportional representation, while existing functional seats remain unchanged. How much do you support or oppose this proposal?". The support and opposing rates were 35% and 37% respectively then.
[11] All error figures in the table are calculated at 95% confidence level. "95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified.
[12] Such changes have gone beyond the sampling errors at the 95% confidence level, meaning that they are statistically significant prima facie. However, whether numerical differences are statistically significant or not is not the same as whether they are practically useful or meaningful.
[13] Half of the sample used the question mode of "A+B" while the other half used the mode of "B+A", same as other survey series. Practically, the two modes are: "Regarding the retention or abolition of the Legislative Council functional constituencies, it is proposed that this issue should be discussed after the political reform proposal is passed. But it is also proposed that this issue should be discussed first, and then to vote for the political reform proposal. Which of the above suggestions do you agree more with?" and "Regarding the retention or abolition of the Legislative Council functional constituencies, it is proposed that this issue should be discussed first, and then to vote for the political reform proposal. But it is also proposed that this issue should be discussed after the political reform proposal is passed. Which of the above suggestions do you agree more with?".


With respect to the Government's proposal of Legco election in 2012 regarding "adding 5 more seats of geographical constituencies and 5 more seats of functional constituencies", results showed that 45% of the respondents supported and 43% opposed this proposal. As for the other proposal of "having 6 of the new seats returned through election by elected District Council members by proportional representation, while existing functional seats remain unchanged", result shows both support and opposition rates are 43%. After having balanced all the factors, 49% of the respondents think that the Legco should pass the proposal of Legco election while 41% think the Legco should veto it. Regarding the retention or abolition of the Legislative Council functional constituencies, 55% of the respondents think that the issue should be discussed before the political reform proposal is approved. 39% think the issue should be discussed after passing the political reform proposal.


IV. Other questions

Date of survey

8-10/6/2010

Sample base

1,026

Overall response rate

66.2%

Error (at 95% confidence level)[14]

+/-3%

Q12. If the overall political reform package is vetoed in the end, who do you think should be blamed the most? [read out the first 4 answers, order to randomized by computer, single answer only]

Central Government

34+/-3%

Pan-democrats

28+/-3%

Chief Executive

19+/-2%

Establishment camp

6+/-2%

Others

4+/-1%

None of the above

2+/-1%

Don't know/ hard to say

7+/-2%

Q13. The National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China has ruled out the possibility of Hong Kong implementing universal suffrage in 2012, but decided that universal suffrage for Chief Executive can be implemented in 2017 and that for Legislative Council in 2020. Do you consider this decision a full guarantee of real universal suffrage in Hong Kong by that time?

Yes

35+/-3%

Half-half

3+/-1%

No

54+/-3%

Don't know/ hard to say

8+/-2%

Q14. Qiao Xiaoyang, Deputy Secretary General of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said recently that the implementation of universal suffrage in Hong Kong should fulfill a number of conditions, namely: 1) it should be compatible with the executive-led system; 2) it should balance the interests of different sectors in Hong Kong, and 3) it should be conductive to the development of capitalistic economy. Do you agree or disagree with Qiao's remark?

Agree

51+/-3%

Half-half

5+/-1%

Disagree

38+/-3%

Don't know/ hard to say

6+/-2%

Q15. When defining universal suffrage in Hong Kong, which of the following do you think is the main reference? [read out first 4 answers, order to be randomized by computer, single answer only]

Definition by Central Government

26+/-3%

Definition by United Nations

26+/-3%

Definition by SAR Government

23+/-3%

Definition by Legco

16+/-2%

Other definitions

2+/-1%

Don't know/ hard to say

6+/-2%

[14] All error figures in the table are calculated at 95% confidence level. "95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified.

Survey also reveals that 34% thought "Central Government" should be blamed the most if the overall political reform package is vetoed in the end. Those who thought "pan-democrats", "Chief Executive" and "establishment camp" should be blamed the most accounted for 28%, 19% and 6% respectively. Given the fact that the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China had ruled out the possibility of Hong Kong implementing universal suffrage in 2012, but decided that universal suffrage for Chief Executive can be implemented in 2017 and that for Legislative Council in 2020, 35% considered this decision a full guarantee of real universal suffrage in Hong Kong by that time, while 54% did not think so. With respect to the recent remark by Qiao Xiaoyang, Deputy Secretary General of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, that the implementation of universal suffrage in Hong Kong requires a number of conditions, including compatibility with the executive-led political system, balancing the interests of different sectors, and conducive to the development of a capitalist economy, result shows that 51% agreed to this remark whereas 38% disagreed. Finally, when asked whose definition of universal suffrage should be the main reference for Hong Kong's development, a respective of 26%, 26%, 23% and 16% opted for "Central Government", "United Nations", "SAR Government" and "Legco".


Commentary

Note: The following commentary was written by Director of POP Robert Chung.

Although Legco will soon vote on the political reform package, only of one in six people in our latest survey said they have a good understanding of the proposals, two-thirds said they know little. This shows that most people's opinion is still based on general impression rather than concrete knowledge.

Because general impression is so important, people's general demand on the pace of democracy becomes an important consideration. Compared to our survey series conducted two-and-a-half years ago, our latest survey still finds that people wants universal suffrage as early possible. At the end of 2007, when asked when is the right time to implement universal suffrage for the CE and Legco election, in light of the principles of "actual situation and orderly progress" specified in Articles 45 and 68 of the Basic Law, 50% to 60% said 2012 is the right time. Together with those who chose one session later, the accumulative percentage becomes more than 80%. In our latest survey, those who chose 2012 has dropped to 40% to 50%, but when combined with those who chose one session later, the accumulative percentage is about 80%. This shows that although many people have accepted the exclusion of universal suffrage in 2012, they still want it to happen as early as possible.

Regarding the government's proposal on CE election in 2012, our survey shows no significant increase in public support after a series of publicity campaign. Rather, opposition has grown stronger. The latest support versus opposition ratio is 41:43, meaning a split in opinion with neither side reaching simple majority. When asked to compare this year's CE election package with that of 2005, less than 50% said it was a progress, again failing to reach simple majority. More than one-third said it has moved backward. This shows that most people do not consider this year's package to be a significant progress. Seventy percent even said that under the current proposal, people outside the establishment camp would have "very little" or "fairly little" chance of getting a CE candidature. Nevertheless, having balanced all important factors, 49% said Legco should pass the CE election proposal, which is 7 percentage points higher than those who said Legco should veto it. The ratio between support and opposition is therefore 49:42 without a simple majority. (In our previous survey, the support versus opposition ratio for the political reform package as a whole was 46:37, but the wording used was slightly different.)

As for the 2012 Legco election proposal, opinion is again split without a simple majority. Having balanced all important factors, again 49% said Legco should pass the proposal, which is 8 percentage points higher than those who said Legco should veto it. The ratio between support and opposition is therefore 49:41, again without a simple majority. The situation is almost the same as that of the CE election proposal.

Wrapping up, although more than half agreed with Qiao Xiaoyang's recent remark that the implementation of universal suffrage in Hong Kong requires a number of conditions, including compatibility with the executive-led political system, balancing the interests of different sectors, and conducive to the development of a capitalist economy, only one-quarter said the Central Government's definition of universal suffrage should be the main reference for Hong Kong's development. More than half, on the other hand, consider NPC Standing Committee's decision which allows universal suffrage for the CE election in 2017 and Legco in 2020 not a full guarantee of real universal suffrage. In other words, Hong Kong people are still rather skeptical of the Central Government's promises. This explains why most people would blame the Central Government in case the political reform proposal cannot get through. The democrats would be the second to be blamed, and then the Chief Executive. To untangle the current standstill, the role of the Central Government is not trivial at all.

| Background | Latest Figures | Commentary |