The Electoral System

Electoral System for the Legislative Council

In accordance with the Basic Law, the Legislative Council of the HKSAR is constituted by elections, and the method for its formation is to be specified in the light of the actual situation in the HKSAR in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress.

    The composition of the first three terms of the Legislative Council as set out in the Basic Law is as follows:



First term

Second term

Third term


elected by geographical constituencies through direct elections







elected by functional constituencies







elected by an election committee












    The Basic Law provides that changes to the formation of the Legislative Council after 2007 may be made by a two-thirds majority of all members of the Legislative Council and with the consent of the Chief Executive. Any such changes are to be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for the record. The Basic Law also provides that the ultimate aim is the election of all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage.

  1. Geographical Constituency
    Geographical constituency elections are held on the basis of universal suffrage. All eligible persons who are 18 or above have the right to register as electors and to vote in the elections. The 1998 Final Register contained 2.8 million registered electors.
        The HKSAR is divided into five geographical constituencies, each having three to five seats. The List Voting System operating under the Largest Remainder formula, which is a form of proportional representation voting system, is adopted. Candidates contest the election in the form of lists. Any permanent resident of the HKSAR who is a Chinese citizen with no right of abode in any foreign country may stand for election in any geographical constituency, provided that he is a registered elector on the Final Register, has attained the age of 21, and has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for the preceding three years. Electors may vote only in the constituency in which they are registered.

  2. Functional Constituency
    Each functional constituency represents an economic, social, or professional group which is of substantial size and importance in the HKSAR. These are: (1) Urban Council; (2) Regional Council; (3) Heung Yee Kuk; (4) agriculture and fisheries; (5) insurance; (6) transport; (7) education; (8) legal; (9) accountancy; (10) medical; (11) health services; (12) engineering; (13) architectural, surveying and planning; (14) labour; (15) social welfare; (16) real estate and construction; (17) tourism; (18) commercial (first); (19) commercial (second); (20) industrial (first); (21) industrial (second); (22) finance; (23) financial services; (24) sports, performing arts, culture and publication; (25) import and export; (26) textiles and garment; (27) wholesale and retail; and (28) information technology. The labour functional constituency returns three Legislative Council members and the other 27 functional constituencies return one member each.
        Functional constituencies which represent professional groups have electorates based on membership of those professions with well-established and recognised qualifications, including statutory qualifications. Each individual member has one vote. The electorates of functional constituencies representing economic or social groups are generally made up of corporate members of major organisations representative of the relevant sectors. Each corporate member appoints an authorised representative to cast the vote on its behalf in an election.
        To become a candidate in the functional constituencies, one must satisfy the usual age and residential requirements as in a geographical constituency election, be a registered elector on the Final Register, and also a registered elector of or have a substantial connection with the relevant functional constituency. To give due recognition to the significant contribution made by foreign nationals and the fact that Hong Kong is an international city, permanent residents of the HKSAR who are not of Chinese nationality or who have the right of abode in foreign countries may stand for election in 12 designated functional constituencies (i.e. functional constituencies No. 5, 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25 mentioned above). Elections for functional constituencies are determined by simple majority, except for the six small functional constituencies (i.e. functional constituencies No.1 to 6 in the preceding paragraph) which are determined by preferential elimination system.

  3. Election Committee
    The qualifications for candidature in the Legislative Council Election Committee election are the same as those for geographical constituency elections. The Election Committee is composed of 800 members who are HKSAR permanent residents from four sectors: (1) industrial, commercial and financial; (2) the professions; (3) labour, social services and religious; and (4) members of the Provisional Legislative Council, Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress, representatives of Hong Kong members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and representatives of district-based organisations each returning 200 members. Each sector is further divided into subsectors each returning a specified number of representatives into the Election Committee by election. Members of the Provisional Legislative Council and Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress are ex officio members of the Election Committee, and the religious subsector returns its representatives into the Election Committee by nomination procedure from designated religious bodies.
        The method for returning 10 Legislative Council members by the Election Committee is by the block vote system - each member of the Election Committee is required to cast 10 votes and the result is determined by first-past-the-post.

Electoral System for the District Organisations

The Basic Law has also stipulated that district organisations may be established in the HKSAR to advise the government on district administration and other affairs, or to be responsible for providing services in such fields as culture, recreation and environmental sanitation. The powers and functions of these organisations and the method for their formation shall be prescribed by law. The relevant legislation for the formation of the District Councils is being examined by the Legislative Council.

Electoral Affairs Commission

An independent statutory body, the Electoral Affairs Commission, was set up in September 1997 to ensure that elections in the HKSAR are conducted openly, honestly and fairly. It comprises three politically neutral persons appointed by the Chief Executive and is headed by a High Court judge. It is responsible for making recommendations to the Chief Executive on the delineation of geographical constituencies, making regulations on practical arrangements for elections, and handling complaints relating to elections. The commission's executive arm is the Registration and Electoral Office, a government department headed by the Chief Electoral Officer. The department works under the commission's direction and carries out its decisions.