2021 Legislative Assembly election: Voters concerned about economy and increased financial support from government
Further economic stimulus and financial support are some of the top topics on the Legislative Assembly election agenda, according to some voters interviewed by the MP, as the Covid-19 pandemic and disqualifications of candidates have tarnished the electoral atmosphere this year.
The election takes place between 9:00 am and 9:00 pm today (Sunday) when more than 325,000 voters will vote in 37 polling stations to determine the results of the 14 directly elected seats contested by more than 120 candidates in 14 electoral lists.
The indirect election for 12 seats in the legislature also takes place on the same day, and all 12 candidates in five constituencies – industry, commerce and finance sectors; works; professionals; social services and education; and culture and sports – should be elected without challenge.
“The government should roll out more grants and support – everyone in Macau has had a difficult life over the past year and more,” said Grandpa Chan, a retiree living in the northern district of the peninsula. from Macau.
“I have already used all my e-vouchers because everything is expensive here,” he says, referring to the third cycle of e-vouchers proposed by the authorities this year, in which every resident is entitled to vouchers of one. worth 8 MOP, 000,000 to spend between June and December, in addition to two rounds of 8,000 MOP in total last year.
“There should be more electronic vouchers and even cash backs, because everything still looks dark at the moment,” he adds.
But Grandpa Chan admits that he is not familiar with the political platforms of the 14 directly elected tickets. “They’re all the same,” he says.
It’s the same situation for Ms. Lei, a casino croupier in her forties, who also admits not having time to read the platforms of the candidates. “What matters to me is when the economy starts to improve,” she said.
The SAR’s economy has been on track to recover for months. Gross domestic product (GDP) rebounded 69.5% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2021, after falling 56.3% year-on-year in 2020 due to the pandemic. But the four new cases of Covid-19 reported in the local community in August threw cold water on the upward momentum.
Like many employees in the games sector, Ms. Lei is able to keep her job but has suffered from the arrangement of unpaid leave. “It had a huge impact on household income,” she says, a mother of two. “Fortunately, we could derive our livelihoods from savings and other resources, but the government should do more. “
According to the Legislative Assembly’s Electoral Affairs Committee, there are 325,180 voters eligible for direct election this year, which is a 6.4% increase from around 310,000 in the 2017 edition. This is the smallest increase in the number of voters among the last six direct elections since the establishment of the Macao SAR in 1999.
The number of voters aged 50 or over for the 2021 edition stands at 180,288 – or 55.4% of the total voters – while the number of voters born in mainland China has reached more than 175,000 , also representing more than half of the total, the figures said the commission.
Jacky, a student at one of the local higher education institutions, is a new voter for this year’s election. “We don’t have the impression that the elections are taking place,” he said. “In the past, brochures, posters and leaflets [of the candidates] were almost everywhere and there was also a lot of campaign activities, but there have been fewer this year.
Political commentators have identified the ongoing pandemic as one of the main reasons for the lukewarm atmosphere, as authorities and hopefuls have scaled back large-scale campaign rallies to minimize the risk of the coronavirus spreading.
The unprecedented disqualifications of 21 candidates on six electoral lists by direct ballot – including all the hopes of the three lists of the pro-democracy camp or what Beijing considers the opposition camp – for “not having pledged allegiance” to the SAR of Macau and “failing to uphold” the Basic Law also turned off the atmosphere and could affect turnout, commentators say.
The disqualifications “reduced the number of choices available to voters,” said Jacky, who declined to be identified with his full name, like others interviewed in this story, due to the political sensitivity of the issue. “I understand that some people don’t know who to vote for,” he adds.
For Mr. Wong, an office worker in his twenties, it is a civic responsibility for residents to vote. “It’s a right we could have taken for granted, but we shouldn’t do it,” he says.
What he looks forward to from the legislature is how they could work in the best interest of the local community. “The Legislature’s record is not very good, and in many cases they haven’t really talked about what the people of Macau really care about,” he says.
The turnout for the 2017 edition was 57.2%, with 0.5% of the total ballots cast being blank votes and 0.7% spoiled votes, according to the Electoral Affairs Commission.
The 2009 edition recorded the highest turnout since the handover at 59.9%, and the lowest turnout was the 2001 election at 52.3%, according to official data.