- Hong Kong on Friday announced it was delaying the city’s next legislative election by a year, citing concerns about the coronavirus.
- The move represents another major blow to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and carries unpleasant parallels with recent efforts by President Donald Trump to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 US election.
- Trump on Thursday suggested that Election Day be delayed for false allegations regarding postal voting.
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In the latest blow to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, the city government on Friday announced that legislative elections scheduled for September would be postponed for a year.
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong chief executive, mentioned concerns about the coronavirus pandemic in announcing the move.
“It was a really tough decision to delay, but we want to ensure justice, public safety and public health,”; Lam told the New York Times.
The announcement came nearly a month after Beijing passed a controversial new national security law in Hong Kong that essentially criminalizes opposition, and just a day after a dozen pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from running in the election. The government assessed that the candidates were not suitable to run for office based on a set of arbitrary factors, including opposition to the new national security law.
Eddie Chu, a pro-democracy lawmaker in Hong Kong running for re-election, said on Twitter that China’s ruling Communist Party is “making a strategic pull” to avoid “a potentially devastating loss” of pro-Beijing candidates in the election. .
The White House on Friday rejected Hong Kong’s decision to postpone its legislative election as anti-democratic, just a day after President Donald Trump suggested the US delay the 2020 election.
“Delaying the Election until people can vote properly, safe and secure ???” Trump tweeted on Thursday, in a troubling parallel to this week’s developments in Hong Kong.
AAaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 31, 2020
Trump, borrowing from China’s authoritarian book, cited false concerns about postal voting in suggesting Election Day be withdrawn. Democrats are advocating for increased access to postal voting in connection with concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in crowded polling stations.
The president, who is taking the place of former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls, has repeatedly said that postal voting will lead to widespread voter fraud. But there is virtually no evidence to support Trump, as voter fraud is extremely rare in the US
Trump has no legal authority to delay the election, but the fact that he even suggested postponing Election Day raises serious questions about whether the president will accept the results if he loses. If Trump opposes the November 3 election result, it could trigger a constitutional crisis.
With his re-election campaign in trouble and the approval rating approved in the gut, it is clear that Trump feels his best bet is to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
The president is therefore trying to cast doubt on the integrity of America’s electoral process among voters in case he loses. In doing so, Trump is reflecting on the tactics of dictators like Chinese President Xi Jinping, who saw the limits of China’s ousted presidential term two years ago in a move that effectively made him president.
As it happens, Trump in 2018 praised Xi for consolidating power and played the US idea of repealing the boundaries of the presidential mandate, which are set out in the US Constitution.
“He is now president for life. President for life. And he is brilliant,” Trump told Xi in a private speech to Republican donors at the time, according to a recording obtained by CNN. “And lo and behold, he was able to do that. I think he’s great. Maybe we’ll give him a kick one day.”