Chief executive contender Carrie Lam has submitted 579 nominations during a second day of protests against her.
Lam is rumoured to be Beijing’s favourite for the chief executive position. She submitted the nominations, which were all from the pro-Beijing camp, a day before the nomination period ends on Wednesday. Contenders need 150 nominations to confirm their candidacy.
The number fell short of 601 – the number of votes needed to win in the secret ballot on March 26.
After the China Liaison Office, Beijing’s organ in Hong Kong, was accused of pressuring electors to nominate Lam, local media cited unnamed sources as saying that some who faced threats may not vote for her in the secret ballot in protest. Therefore, Lam would have needed many more than 601 nominations to ensure her win.
She said she submitted all the nominations she received on Tuesday morning, without holding any back.
Lam said it was “understandable” that some electors chose not to nominate anyone.
Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing previously said that he would not nominate anyone but will vote in the secret ballot.
“In the next three weeks I will try to explain my policy views to all electors,” she said. “I will also widely reach Hong Kong people to gain their support and recognition.”
Protests erupted before and after Lam submitted her nominations.
After challenging Lam at the announcement of her election manifesto a day earlier, the parties League of Social Democrats and People Power held another protest against the “small circle election.”
They demanded that Lam meet them and receive their protest letter.
“We don’t want an ordained chief executive! We don’t want Carrie Lam! We want genuine universal suffrage!” they chanted.
Raphael Wong, vice-chairman of the LSD, said Lam’s nominations only came from the rich and powerful in the pro-Beijing camp. He said Lam’s slogan should not be “We Connect” but “We Collude.”
Lam entered Harbour Centre, the building that houses the electoral office, through the back door to avoid protesters at the main entrance. She returned to the lobby to speak to reporters about an hour later.
Her main rivals John Tsang and Woo Kwok-hing submitted their nominations on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
Tsang received 160, of which 125 were from the pro-democracy camp. Only 35 were from the pro-Beijing camp. Woo received all 180 nominations from the pro-democracy camp.
For the last major contender, lawmaker Regina Ip, to receive enough nominations to run, she must receive some 100 more nominations from the pro-Beijing camp.
Ip failed to get enough nominations in the last election in 2012.