Editorial | Numbers say it all?

Paulo Coutinho

Yesterday’s AL elections, apart from winners and losers (a figure that wasn’t available at the time of this writing) have one major distinction when compared to previous polls that is the lowest turnout ever not only in terms of percentage points (42.38%) but also in absolute numbers.
Whilst the universe of voters was the largest this year at around 329,000, the turnout was worse in absolute numbers: 138,000 in 2021 versus 174,000 in 2017, in round numbers.
It is impossible not to relate these statistics to the exclusion of lists, most led by former lawmakers in the pro-democracy camp. They were disqualified by local authorities on grounds of national security. We can admit other factors weighing in on this very low participation: I would elect one, the transformation of the electoral universe with the newcomers, being them youth coming of age, or the profiling of the newest immigrants that attained the right to vote through the permanent residency law provisions.
The electoral commission chief was the first face showing live on TV and being confronted with questions, mostly, related to the low turnout. Tong Hio Fong discarded the exclusion of candidates matter, basically being numb about this, and pointed out the pandemic, economic hardship, and unpleasant weather conditions in the aftermath of typhoons influencing the elements as of last week.
Be that as it may, it is not the duty of a bureaucrat such as Judge Tong to draw conclusions or speculate on political issues affecting the direct-universal suffrage seats; that should be responded to by the political leaders, namely Ho Iat Seng. And they should also look into the fact that the turnout at the indirect polls was also lower than four years ago.
In a crucial time for Macau – when both central and local governments are engaged in master plans for diversifying MSAR’s economy with the goal of making it a sustainable one (and it seems the Hengqin Cooperation Zone has a real shot at it) these elections cannot be seen but a setback in the development of modern Macau and its fundamental characteristics, second to none, its diversity, tolerance and the rule of law.
Macau people are mostly pragmatic, never rebellious, but conscious. The signals sent in this voting from them should be taken into consideration.

Categories Editorial Macau