The aftermath | Return of the pan-democrats

Pereira Coutinho (right) watches on as the election results unfold

26-year-old activist Sulu Sou (center) celebrates with his supporters

The consolidation of the democrat faction in the Legislative Assembly (AL) is the single most important electoral shift to come out of Sunday’s election.

With the final numbers now showing that the election of newcomers Sulu Sou and Agnes Lam seemingly had no impact on incumbents Au Kam San, Ng Kuok Cheong and Pereira Coutinho, the pan-democrat title might once again be fit for use in the city.

Veteran democrat lawmakers Au and Ng coasted through the election on separate lists, backed by 11,380 votes (6.59 percent) and 10,079 votes (5.84 percent) respectively. Au was the sixth elected lawmaker this year, while Ng managed ninth.

The fielding of 26-year-old Sou by the ‘youth wing’ of the New Macau Association brought with it concerns of a dampening effect on the veterans’ campaigns, siphoning away crucial votes.

This concern was expressed during the election when, on several occasions, Ng and Au expressed doubt over their chances of re-election. The young Sou, who earned his seat on Sunday to become the city’s youngest ever lawmaker, remarked yesterday morning that his election did not represent a “zero-sum game” of winners and losers within the democrat faction.

Indeed, Sou’s electoral victory does not appear to have detracted voters from Ng and Au, despite the young democrat nearly tripling the number of votes for the ‘young radicals’ list, compared with the 2013 campaign led by Jason Chao.

Lam’s third attempt at the AL paid off this year after she rallied some 9,590 votes on Sunday. While not regarded as a true democrat, it is thought that many of her supporters are at least sympathetic to democratic ideals. Therefore, it is mildly surprising that despite rallying around 75 percent more voters than in 2013, incumbent lawmakers Ng, Au and New Hope’s Coutinho seem to have been unaffected.

In the case of New Hope, list leader Coutinho was re-elected with ease on Sunday after his association gathered 14,383 votes; around 800 or so more than in 2013, but with around 0.6 percent less of the vote share.

Second on the New Hope list, former lawmaker Leong Veng Chai, lost a seat he won by a marginal 32 votes in 2013, mostly as a result of the increased number of lists this year and the subsequently more even distribution of voters.

In the 2013 Legislative Election, four electoral lists were able to take away at least two seats each, including Chan Meng Kam’s Macau United Citizens Association that won an unprecedented three. In 2017, only two lists managed a second lawmaker.

Unequivocally then, the democrat side was strengthened in the course of the 2017 election, even if that did not necessarily translate into additional seats.

The same did not hold true for all incumbent pro-establishment lawmakers.

The more even distribution of votes this year stripped Chan Meng Kam of a third seat, irrespective of the fact that he ran two lists. Then, Leong Sun Iok, second-ranked on the Union for Development list, edged out long- standing pro-establishment lawmaker, Melinda Chan.

Newly-elected Sou might be right when he says that his victory does not represent a zero-sum game in regards to the other democrats. But for the ‘macro-politics’ of the city’s legislature, the democrats’ gain can only be accounted for by the establishment’s loss.  DB

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