Trying to understand what's going on in Hong Kong, haven't been paying attention:
From Instrument 21 (29 December 2007):
"The Session is of the view that appropriate amendments may be made to the specific method for selecting the fourth Chief Executive and the specific method for forming the fifth term Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the year 2012; that the election of the fifth Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the year 2017 may be implemented by the method of universal suffrage; (In Chinese: 2017年香港特別行政區第五任行政長官的選舉可以實行由普選產生的辦法;) that after the Chief Executive is selected by universal suffrage, the election of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may be implemented by the method of electing all the members by universal suffrage."
From Basic Law — the Source of Hong Kong’s Progress and Development from "Drafting and Promulgation of the Basic Law and Hong Kong’s Reunification with the Motherland"
"The fourth-term Chief Executive was elected by the Election Committee composed of 1,200 members on 25 March 2012. Mr Leung Chun-ying won the election with 689 ballots. The fourth-term Chief Executive is the last one returned by the Election Committee. In 2017 the fifth-term Chief Executive will be nominated by a nominating committee and elected by all eligible voters in Hong Kong through “one person, one vote” universal suffrage."
Who the nominating committee nominates is the rub, I guess.
From a 31 December 2007 WSJ piece, "China Plan To Boost Hong Kong Suffrage Sees Snags"
"Beijing had promised eventual direct elections to Hong Kong, which has its own political, legal and economic systems, as a term of its return to Chinese control in 1997. But it left vague details of when and how that would be accomplished, fueling years of debate here over the pace of changes. Currently, the chief executive is elected by an 800-member nominating committee that includes dignitaries and Chinese lawmakers appointed by Beijing.
It remains unclear how any direct elections will be carried out, though Mr. Qiao said Beijing would like to see a nominating committee based on the current system. Democracy advocates here say such a committee could end up screening out candidates that didn't already have some degree of support from Beijing.
Disagreements on the nomination process could be a stumbling block as pro-democratic and pro-establishment camps attempt to hash out an electoral model that is acceptable to both sides. Mr. Qiao suggested Saturday that Beijing expected to first see a consensus emerge on a transitional electoral model for 2012's election before approving any concrete proposals for 2017's elections."
From a 13 September 2013 WSJ piece, "More Bad News for Hong Kong Democracy Movement"
This week, the Communist Party's top local representative, Zhang Xiaoming, declared that any system of universal suffrage in Hong Kong must conform to the city's mini-constitution Basic Law, and that an open nomination of candidates wouldn't be accepted.
While Beijing has long said the city can begin electing its top leader by universal suffrage in 2017, what that system will look like hasn't been spelled out. The city's chief executive is currently elected by a committee of 1,200 people--which is largely stacked with pro-Beijing and pro-business representatives--and pro-democracy activists worry that such a committee also will be used to screen candidates and allow only Beijing-friendly aspirants to run.
Mr. Zhang appeared to give more credence to this fear Thursday, in a letter uploaded to the Beijing liaison office's website reiterating the fact that under Basic Law, any leader must be nominated by a "broadly representative" group, such as the existing election committee.
"Basic Law's Article 45 already clearly stipulates that candidates must be nominated by a broadly representative nominating committee according to democratic procedures," Mr. Zhang wrote, "and there are no other options."
From a 31 August 2014 WSJ piece, "Beijing Rules Out Open Election in Hong Kong"
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's largely ceremonial parliament, said future chief-executive candidates will need to be nominated by a "broadly representative" committee.
It said candidates will need to secure support from at least 50% of members on a nominating committee (ed. emphasis mine, ah, so this is the cause of the trouble?), and that their numbers would be capped in any given race at two or three candidates. Currently, the chief executive is appointed by the central government via a 1,200-member committee heavy on Beijing backers as well as business leaders. Candidates have until now only needed to get support from one-eighth of the panel (ed. 150 committee members), which in 2012 allowed a pro-democracy legislator to run as one of three candidates.
"Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner," Sunday's decision said.
The committee again emphasized that potential candidates must be "patriotic" and "love the country and love Hong Kong," though it left unclear how that would be determined.
The electoral-reform plan must secure the backing of Hong Kong's legislative council to proceed. With just over a third of 70 seats, Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers in theory have veto power over the decision.
So why don't they just veto it?