Just over 50 percent of voters turned out to cast their ballot in Macau’s fifth Legislative Assembly elections yesterday.
The 145,274 people who voted were treated to free rides and cut-price meals for performing their civic duty in electing (or ‘smurfing’ as the locals call it) 14 out of 33 lawmakers (‘smurf-makers’).
However, while the election was lower than low key, this did not stop accusations of corruption and vote buying being thrown around, as the SCMP reports:
Counting was delayed at two polling stations when two candidates, in separate incidents, harassed staff. One of them was led away by police but not arrested.
Candidates campaigned until the last minute, with some observers saying some antics were close to the limits of acceptability.
Commissioner Against Corruption Fong Man-chong admitted that many acts had “tested the boundary of legality” and had reached an unprecedented level, but he said any complaints would be closely followed up.
“Even one case [of vote-buying] is too many,” he said.
Voters were provided with bottled water at one hotel and taxis ran from its forecourt all afternoon to take them to polling stations. One taxi driver said a hotel owner and candidate “gave us 1,500 patacas for the day to take voters to cast their ballots – usually we only earn around 1,000 to 1,200 patacas per day”.
The United Citizens Association of Macau, a pro-Beijing party, won 18.02 percent of the vote, taking three of the available seats.
Pro-establishment parties won 10 of the 14 seats, maintaining their (artificially ensured) majority in the legislative assembly.
Antonio Ng’s New Macau Association (AMN) won 15.73 percent of the vote, the highest of any pro-democracy party.
[Image credit: @karismafilms]