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Legislative Council of Hong Kong

Legislative Council of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

香港特別行政區立法會
7th Legislative Council
Logo
Type
Type
History
Founded
  • 26 June 1843; 180 years ago (1843-06-26) (colonial)
  • 25 January 1997; 27 years ago (1997-01-25) (provisional)
  • 1 July 1998; 25 years ago (1998-07-01) (HKSAR)
Preceded byProvisional Legislative Council
Leadership
Andrew Leung, BPA
since 12 October 2016
Structure
Seats90
Political groups
Pro-Beijing (88)
  •   DAB (19)
  •   BPA (8)
  •   FTU (7)
  •   NPP (6)
  •   Liberal (4)
  •   FEW (2)
  •   FLU (2)
  •   Roundtable (1)
  •   PP (1)
  •   KWND (1)
  •   New Prospect (1)
  •   New Forum (1)
  •   Independent (35)
Unaligned (1)
Vacant (1)
Elections
Last general election
19 December 2021
Next general election
2025
Meeting place
Legislative Council Complex, 1 Legislative Council Road, Tamar, Central & Western District, Hong Kong
Website
legco.gov.hk
Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Traditional Chinese香港特別行政區立法會
Simplified Chinese香港特别行政区立法会
Legislative Council
Traditional Chinese立法會
Simplified Chinese立法会
Name before 1997
Chinese立法局
The Legislative Council Building (1985–2011)
Central Government Offices, home to LegCo from the 1950s to 1985
The French Mission Building housed LegCo in the 1840s

The Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Chinese: 香港立法會; pinyin: Xiānggǎng Tèbiéxíngzhèngqū Lìfǎhuì) (LegCo) is the unicameral legislature of Hong Kong. It sits under China's "one country, two systems" constitutional arrangement, and is the power centre of Hong Kong's hybrid representative democracy, though popular representation in the legislature has diminished significantly in recent years, along with its political diversity.[2][3]

The functions of the Legislative Council are to enact, amend or repeal laws; examine and approve budgets, taxation and public expenditure; and raise questions on the work of the government. In addition, the Legislative Council also has the power to endorse the appointment and removal of the judges of the Court of Final Appeal and the Chief Judge of the High Court, as well as the power to impeach the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.[4][5]

Following the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests, the National People's Congress disqualified several opposition councilors and initiated an electoral overhaul in 2021. The current Legislative Council consists of three groups of constituencies—geographical constituencies (GCs), functional constituencies (FCs), and Election Committee constituencies—and has been dominated by the pro-Beijing camp since an opposition walkout in 2020.[6] The 2021 changes resulted in a drop in the share of directly elected representatives from 50% to 22% and an increase in the overall number of seats from 70 to 90, along with the establishment of a screening committee to vet candidates.[6]

The original two groups (GCs and FCs) had constitutional significance. Government bills requires a simple majority of the council for passage, whereas private member bills requires simple majorities in two discrete divisions of geographical members and functional members for passage. Therefore, the directly elected legislators (mainly from the GCs) had minimal influence over government policy and legislative agenda.[citation needed]

The historical Legislative Council of Hong Kong in the British colonial era was created under the 1843 Charter as an advisory council to the Governor. The authority of the colonial legislature expanded throughout its history.[5] A parallel Provisional Legislative Council was put in place by China from 1996 to 1998 to pass laws in anticipation of the Hong Kong handover.

History

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Colonial period

The Legislative Council of Hong Kong was set up in 1843 for the first time as a colonial legislature under British rule. Hong Kong's first constitution,[5] in the form of Queen Victoria's letters patent, issued on 27 June 1843 and titled the Charter of the Colony of Hong Kong, authorised the establishment of the Legislative Council to advise the Governor of Hong Kong's administration. The council had four official members including the governor who was president of the council when it was first established. The Letters Patent of 1888, which replaced the 1843 charter, added the significant words "and consent" after the words "with the advice".[5] The Legislative Council was initially set up as the advisory body to the governor, and for the most of the time, consisted half of official members, who were the government officials seated in the council, and half of unofficial members who were appointed by the Governor.

After the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed on 19 December 1984 (in which the United Kingdom agreed to transfer the sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997), the Hong Kong government decided to start the process of democratisation based on the consultative document, Green Paper: the Further Development of Representative Government in Hong Kong on 18 July 1984.[7]

The first elections to the Council were held in 1985, followed by the first direct elections of the Legislative Council held in 1991. The Legislative Council became a fully elected legislature for the first time in 1995 and extensively expanded its functions and organisations throughout the last years of the colonial rule.[8]

The People's Republic of China government did not agree with reforms to the Legislative Council enacted by the last Governor Chris Patten in 1994. Therefore, it withdrew the previous so-called "through-train" policy that would have allowed for members elected to the colonial Legislative Council automatically becoming members of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) legislature. Instead, the Beijing government resolved to set up an alternative legislative council in preparation for the return of Hong Kong sovereignty from Britain to China.

Before the 1997 transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, rather than working through the 1995 elected colonial legislature, the government of China, through the Preparatory Committee for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), unilaterally established, in 1996, the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC) in Shenzhen, under the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China.[9]

The Provisional Legislative Council, seen as unconstitutional by the British authorities and boycotted by most pro-democracy legislators, was in operation from 25 January 1997 to 30 June 1998 and held its meetings in Shenzhen until 30 June 1997, when the PLC moved to Hong Kong and replaced the elected legislature from the 1997 handover of Hong Kong until the 1998 Hong Kong legislative election. Since 2000, the terms of the Legislative Council have been four years, with the exception of the 6th Legislative Council.

Early SAR years

The current HKSAR Legislative Council was established on 1 October 1998 under the Hong Kong Basic Law. The first meeting of the council was held in July of the same year. Five subsequent Legislative Council elections have been held — the most recent being held on 4 September 2016. The Democratic Party had briefly held the largest-party status in the early years of the SAR period, but its support was slowly eaten away by its pro-democracy allies such as The Frontier and later the Civic Party. In the 2004 election, the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) surpassed the Democrats as the largest party for the first time and has since held its superior status. Due to the indirectly elected trade-based functional constituencies which largely favour business interests — represented by the Liberal Party and subsequently the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA) — the pro-Beijing camp has been able to keep the majority in the legislature despite receiving fewer votes than the pro-democracy bloc in the direct elections.

Article 68 of the Hong Kong Basic Law states that the ultimate aim is the election of all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage. This and a similar article dealing with election of the Chief Executive have made universal suffrage for the council and the Chief Executive a dominant issue in Hong Kong politics.

In 2010, the government's constitutional reform proposal became the first and only constitutional move to have been passed by the Legislative Council in the SAR era with the support of the Democratic Party after the Beijing government accepted the modified package as presented by the party, which increased the composition of the Legislative Council from 60 to 70 seats; adding five seats in the directly elected geographical constituencies and five new District Council (Second) functional constituency seats which are nominated by the District Councillors and elected by all registered electorates.[10] The 2014 Hong Kong electoral reform proposal, which suggested the electoral method of the Legislative Council remain unchanged, was vetoed in 2015, after a massive occupation protest demanding universal suffrage — often dubbed the "Umbrella Revolution" — broke out in 2014.[11]

The 2016 New Territories East by-election and September general election saw the rise of localist tide where a number of pro-independence candidates were elected to the council. In November, in Beijing's fifth interpretation of the Basic Law since the 1997 handover, the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) disqualified two pro-independence legislators from assuming public office pursuant to Article 104.[12][13] Four more pro-democracy and localist legislators were unseated in subsequent court cases.[14] Returning officers also disqualified certain candidates who had advocated for Hong Kong self-determination, with or without option for independence, from running in the following by-elections; the government expressed support for such decisions.[15][16]

2019 crisis and 2021 overhaul

The 2019 amendment of the extradition bill caused an historic political upheaval, where intensive protests erupted throughout the city in the latter half of the year, including the storming of the Legislative Council Complex on the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong on 1 July.[17] In July 2020, in light of the pro-democrats' attempt to seize the majority of the Legislative Council in the midst of the largely unpopular Carrie Lam government, the government postponed the seventh general election, citing the COVID-19 spike. At variance with the four-year term set out in the Basic Law, the NPCSC decided in August that the sitting Legislative Council should continue with its duties for at least one year; however, the term of the upcoming LegCo would remain four years.[12][18] In a November decision, the NPCSC disqualified LegCo members on grounds such as Hong Kong independence, Chinese sovereignty, and solicitation of foreign intervention, impacting four sitting legislators whose candidacies had been invalidated in the postponed election.[12] After the disqualification, the 15 remaining pro-democracy legislators announced their resignation in protest, leaving the legislature with virtually no opposition.[19]

On 27 January 2021, CCP general secretary Xi Jinping said that Hong Kong could only maintain its long-term stability and security by ensuring "patriots governing Hong Kong" when he reviewed a work report delivered by Carrie Lam.[20] In March 2021, China's National People's Congress passed a resolution that authorised an overhaul of Hong Kong's electoral system, including that of the Legislative Council.[21] The reform would allow a new Candidate Eligibility Review Committee, composed entirely of principal officials from the Hong Kong government, to vet candidates for the Legislative Council and would increase its total number of seats from 70 to 90.[22] However, the seats that were directly elected would be reduced from 35 to 20, the five directly elected District Council (Second) seats would also be removed, while an additional 40 seats would be elected by the pro-Beijing Election Committee and 30 seats would remain trade-based functional constituencies. Every candidate must have nominations from each of the five sectors in the Election Committee.[22][23]

The seventh Legislative Council term, beginning in January 2022, made changes where lawmakers' names were replaced with "a member" or "members" in meeting minutes, a change which the Hong Kong Journalists Association said was negative and that "One one hand, that would make it more difficult for the public to hold lawmakers accountable, and therefore affect how voters may vote."[24]

In April 2023, a survey found that half of Hongkongers were unable to name any serving lawmaker, with another 12% naming somebody not a current lawmaker.[25]

In May 2023, the Legislative Council voted with 100% approval to let the chief executive restrict overseas lawyers from national security cases, following attempts by the government to block Jimmy Lai from hiring Tim Owen as his defense lawyer.[26]

In September 2023, a report found that at least 66% of all bills that were passed were done with less than half of all Legislative Council members present, below the 50% attendance threshold for a quorum.[27]

The Legislative Council Building

The first meetings of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, from 1844 to 1846, were likely convened in the residence of Governor Pottinger (later to be the French Mission Building), still standing at Government Hill. From 1848 to 1954 (interrupted by renovation in 1928-9 and the Japanese occupation in 1941–5), it was housed on the upper floor of the Colonial Secretariat Building, Lower Albert Road, replaced in 1957 by the Annex to the Central Government Offices Main Wing, on the same site.[28] In 1985, LegCo moved down to the nearby Old Supreme Court building (22°16′52″N 114°09′36″E / 22.280996°N 114.160116°E / 22.280996; 114.160116) in Central Hong Kong where it remained until November 2011.[29] It took up residence in its present accommodation at the Legislative Block of the Central Government Complex, Tamar in December 2011.

Unlike many other former and current Commonwealth legislatures, the Hong Kong Legislative Council does not have a ceremonial mace placed in its chambers. However, the high courts of Hong Kong use a mace to open sessions, and it represents the authority and powers of the court.

To provide a long-term solution to the space shortage problem facing both the Government and the Legislative Council, the Government commissioned the Tamar Development for the design and construction of the Central Government Complex, the Legislative Council Complex and other ancillary facilities in 2008. The Legislative Council Complex comprises a low block and a high block: the low block, which will be named the Council Block, mainly houses conference facilities including the Chamber, major conference rooms, and communal facilities such as library, cafeteria and education facilities. The range of education facilities for visit by the public includes video corner, visitors' sharing area, exhibition area, children's corner, viewing gallery and access corridors, memory lane, education activities rooms and education galleries. The high block, which will be named as the Office Block, mainly houses offices for members and staff of the Legislative Council Secretariat. Officially opened on 1 August 2011, administrative staff had already taken occupation on 15 January 2011.

Membership composition

Changes to the composition of the Legislative Council:
2016 composition (70 seats)
  Directly elected geographical constituencies (35)
  Indirectly elected trade-based functional constituencies (30)
2021 composition (90 seats)
  Directly elected geographical constituencies (20)
  Indirectly elected trade-based functional constituencies (30)
  Newly created Election Committee constituency (40)

Under the 2021 Hong Kong electoral changes initiated by the National People's Congress, the Legislative Council is now composed of 90 members returned from 3 constituencies: the Election Committee Constituency, Functional Constituencies and Geographical Constituencies by popular vote.

Composition of the Legislative Council (2022-)
No. of Members Returned by Voting Method No. of Voters (2021)
Election Committee Constituency 40 Members of the Election Committee Plurality block voting 1,448
Functional Constituencies 30 Members of specified associations or professions First-past-the-post voting / Plurality block voting 210,675 (individual voters);

8,579 (body voters)

Geographical Constituencies 20 Direct elections Single non-transferable vote 4,472,863

The term of office of a member is constitutionally four years except for the first term (1998 to 2000) which was set to be two years according to Article 69 of the Basic Law. The 6th Legislative Council's term of office of over five years from 2016 is in direct violation of Article 69 of the Basic Law.[citation needed]

In both the 2008 and 2004 elections, 30 members were directly elected by universal suffrage from geographical constituencies (GCs) and 30 were elected from functional constituencies (FCs). In the 2000 election, 24 were directly elected, six elected from an 800-member electoral college known as the Election Committee of Hong Kong, and 30 elected from FCs. Since the 2004 election, all the seats are equally divided between geographical and functional constituencies.

According to The Basic Law, while the method for forming the Legislative Council shall be specified in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress, the ultimate aim is to elect all Council members by universal suffrage (Article 68 of The Basic Law of Hong Kong). However, under the 2021 overhaul, the seats that were directly elected would be reduced from 35 back down to 20, the five directly elected District Council (Second) seats would also be removed, while an additional 40 seats would be elected by the Beijing-controlled Election Committee and 30 seats would remain trade-based functional constituencies, reducing the proportion of directly elected seats from 50% to 22%. Additionally all candidates must now be approved by the unelected HKSAR government via the Candidate Eligibility Review Committee. This has led to all parties that are not pro-Beijing declining to run in the elections, as it is now reasonable to assume that any pro-democracy candidates fielded that might be electable will be disqualified prior to the election.[citation needed]

In this Legislative Council, 59 of the 90 members elected in the 2021 election were elected for the first time, or were not members of the last Legislative Council. All members are listed by seniority according to the year of the beginning of consecutive service then the order of swearing in (i.e. the number of strokes in the traditional characters of names in Chinese per precedent) with the president of the Legislative Council being ranked first.[30]

Members who did not serve throughout the term are italicised. Supplementary members elected in by-elections are listed below.

Key to changes since legislative election:

a = change in party allegiance
b = by-election
Capacity Constituency Portrait Elected Members Elected Party Political Alignment Born Occupation(s) Assumed
Office
President of the Legislative Council
FC Industrial (First) Andrew Leung BPA Pro-Beijing (1951-02-24)24 February 1951 Merchant 2004
Other members
FC Catering Tommy Cheung Liberal Pro-Beijing (1949-09-30)30 September 1949 Merchant
Legislative Councillor
2000
FC Commercial (First) Jeffrey Lam BPA Pro-Beijing (1951-10-23)23 October 1951 Merchant 2004
ECC Election Committee Starry Lee DAB Pro-Beijing (1974-03-13)13 March 1974 Accountant
Legislative Councillor
2008
GC New Territories North East Chan Hak-kan DAB/NTAS Pro-Beijing (1976-04-24)24 April 1976 Legislative Councillor 2008
FC Insurance Chan Kin-por Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1954-05-10)10 May 1954 Legislative Councillor
Chief Executive
2008
ECC Election Committee Priscilla Leung BPA/KWND Pro-Beijing (1960-11-18)18 November 1960 Professor
Barrister-at-law
2008
GC Hong Kong Island West Regina Ip NPP Pro-Beijing (1950-08-24)24 August 1950 Chair of Savantas Policy Institute 2008
ECC Election Committee Paul Tse Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1959-01-21)21 January 1959 Solicitor 2008
GC New Territories North West Michael Tien Roundtable Pro-Beijing (1950-08-26)26 August 1950 Legislative Councillor
Entrepreneur
2012
FC Agriculture and Fisheries Steven Ho DAB Pro-Beijing (1979-11-30)30 November 1979 Legislative Councillor 2012
FC Transport Frankie Yick Liberal Pro-Beijing 1953 (1953) Company Director 2012
ECC Election Committee Ma Fung-kwok New Forum Pro-Beijing (1955-07-22)22 July 1955 Managing Director 2012
GC New Territories South West Chan Han-pan DAB/NTAS Pro-Beijing 1975 (1975) Legislative Councillor 2012
ECC Election Committee Alice Mak[a] FTU Pro-Beijing (1971-11-01)1 November 1971 Legislative Councillor 2012
GC Labour Kwok Wai-keung FTU Pro-Beijing (1978-04-15)15 April 1978 Legislative Councillor
Eastern District Councillor
2012
ECC Election Committee Elizabeth Quat DAB Pro-Beijing (1966-12-23)23 December 1966 Legislative Councillor 2012
FC Commercial (Second) Martin Liao Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1957 (1957) Barrister-at-law 2012
FC Engineering Lo Wai-kwok BPA Pro-Beijing (1953-12-25)25 December 1953 Engineer 2012
FC Industrial (Second) Jimmy Ng BPA Pro-Beijing (1969-06-17)17 June 1969 Company Director 2016
ECC Election Committee Junius Ho Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1962-06-04)4 June 1962 Solicitor 2016
GC New Territories North West Holden Chow DAB Pro-Beijing (1979-06-07)7 June 1979 Solicitor 2016
FC Wholesale and Retail Shiu Ka-fai Liberal Pro-Beijing (1970-04-22)22 April 1970 Company Director 2016
ECC Election Committee Yung Hoi-yan NPP/CF Pro-Beijing (1977-06-07)7 June 1977 Barrister-at-law 2016
FC Finance Chan Chun-ying Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1961 (1961) Advisor 2016
ECC Election Committee Cheung Kwok-kwan[a] DAB Pro-Beijing (1974-06-30)30 June 1974 Solicitor 2016
ECC Election Committee Luk Chung-hung FTU Pro-Beijing (1978-09-21)21 September 1978 Legislative Councillor 2016
GC New Territories North Lau Kwok-fan DAB/NTAS Pro-Beijing (1978-06-28)28 June 1978 Legislative Councillor 2016
FC Heung Yee Kuk Kenneth Lau BPA Pro-Beijing 1966 (1966) Merchant 2016
GC Kowloon West Vincent Cheng DAB Pro-Beijing (1979-07-18)18 July 1979 Legislative Councillor 2018 (b)
FC Architectural, Surveying,
Planning and Landscape
Tony Tse Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1954-10-27)27 October 1954 Surveyor 2018 (b)
ECC Election Committee Doreen Kong Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1970-07-12)12 July 1970 Solicitor 2022
FC Education Chu Kwok-keung FEW Pro-Beijing Unknown School Principal 2022
GC New Territories South East Stanley Li DAB/NTAS Pro-Beijing (1983-08-12)12 August 1983 Legislative Councillor 2022
ECC Election Committee Hoey Simon Lee Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1977 (1977) Chief Strategy Officer 2022
FC Financial Services Robert Lee Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1980 (1980) Company Director 2022
GC New Territories North East Dominic Lee NPP/CF Pro-Beijing (1984-01-22)22 January 1984 Company Director 2022
FC Social Welfare Tik Chi-yuen Third Side Non-aligned (1957-09-24)24 September 1957 Legislative Councillor 2022
ECC Election Committee Lee Chun-keung Liberal Pro-Beijing (1984-08-22)22 August 1984 Legislative Councillor
Manager
2022
GC Hong Kong Island East Stanley Ng FTU Pro-Beijing 1970 (1970) Trade Unionist 2022
ECC Election Committee Johnny Ng Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1974 (1974) Company Director 2022
FC Labour Chau Siu-chung FLU Pro-Beijing 1970 (1970) Trade Unionist 2022
ECC Election Committee Chow Man-kong Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing Unknown Associate Vice President of the Education University of Hong Kong 2022
FC Medical and Health Services David Lam Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1966 (1966) Surgeon 2022
ECC Election Committee Lam Chun-sing FLU Pro-Beijing 1981 (1981) Trade Unionist 2022
GC New Territories South East Lam So-wai Professional Power Pro-Beijing (1987-12-31)31 December 1987 Legislative Councillor 2022
ECC Election Committee Nixie Lam DAB Pro-Beijing (1982-03-13)13 March 1982 Legislative Councillor 2022
ECC Election Committee Nelson Lam[a] Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1968-08-20)20 August 1968 Accountant 2022
ECC Election Committee Dennis Lam Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1982-03-13)13 March 1982 Doctor 2022
FC Legal Lam San-keung Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1961 (1961) Solicitor 2022
ECC Election Committee Andrew Lam Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1961 (1961) Company Chairman 2022
FC Technology and Innovation Duncan Chiu Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1974 (1974) Merchant 2022
FC Tourism Yiu Pak-leung Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1974-03-11)11 March 1974 Chairman of the China Travel Service (Hong Kong) 2022
ECC Election Committee Wendy Hong Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1975 (1975) Head of Research 2022
ECC Election Committee Sun Dong[a] Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1967 (1967) Chair Professor of the City University of Hong Kong 2022
FC Labour Dennis Leung FTU Pro-Beijing (1973-10-06)6 October 1973 Community Officer 2022
GC Kowloon West Leung Man-kwong KWND Pro-Beijing (1984-08-03)3 August 1984 Legislative Councillor 2022
GC Hong Kong Island East Edward Leung DAB Pro-Beijing (1985-03-08)8 March 1985 Legislative Councillor 2022
ECC Election Committee Kenneth Leung Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1984-03-03)3 March 1984 Legislative Councillor 2022
ECC Election Committee Chan Yuet-ming Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1972 (1972) Legislative Councillor
North District Councillor
2022
ECC Election Committee Rock Chen DAB Pro-Beijing (1966-06-06)6 June 1966 Investment Manager
Company Director
2022
ECC Election Committee Chan Pui-leung Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1959 (1959) Legislative Councillor
China Taiping Insurance (HK) Company Limited General Manager
2022
FC HKSAR members of NPC and CPPCC, Representatives of National Organisations Chan Yung DAB/NTAS Pro-Beijing (1966-06-06)6 June 1966 Hong Kong Deputies to the National People's Congress
Legislative Councillor
Social Worker
2022
FC Textiles and Garment Sunny Tan Nonpartisana Pro-Beijing 1973 (1973) Legislative Councillor
Merchant
2022
ECC Election Committee Judy Chan NPP Pro-Beijing (1980-04-04)4 April 1980 Legislative Councillor 2022
ECC Election Committee Maggie Chan Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1969-02-03)3 February 1969 Solicitor 2022
ECC Election Committee Chan Siu-hung Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1958 (1958) Engineer 2022
ECC Election Committee Chan Hoi-yan Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1977-11-19)19 November 1977 Legislative Councillor
Company Director
2022
GC New Territories South West Joephy Chan FTU Pro-Beijing (1989-12-16)16 December 1989 Trade Unionist 2022
GC Hong Kong Island West Chan Hok-fung DAB Pro-Beijing 1976 (1976) Banker 2022
GC New Territories North Gary Zhang New Prospect Pro-Beijing 1989 (1989) Engineer 2022
ECC Election Committee Lilian Kwok DAB Pro-Beijing (1979-04-20)20 April 1979 Teacher 2022
ECC Election Committee Benson Luk BPA Pro-Beijing (1983-12-03)3 December 1983 Chief Strategy Officer 2022
ECC Election Committee Wong Yue-shan[b] Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1975-12-22)22 December 1975 Our Hong Kong Foundation Senior Vice President
Executive Director of Public Policy Institute
2022
FC Import and Export Kennedy Wong DAB Pro-Beijing (1963-02-23)23 February 1963 Solicitor 2022
FC Accountancy Edmund Wong DAB Pro-Beijing (1985-01-07)7 January 1985 Accountant 2022
ECC Election Committee Kingsley Wong FTU Pro-Beijing 1968 (1968) Trade Unionist 2022
GC Kowloon Central Yang Wing-kit Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1968 (1968) Legislative Councillor
Kowloon City District Councillor
2022
ECC Election Committee Peter Koon Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1965-12-02)2 December 1965 Clergyman 2022
ECC Election Committee Tang Fei FEW Pro-Beijing Unknown Legislative Councillor 2022
GC Kowloon East Tang Ka-piu FTU Pro-Beijing (1979-10-29)29 October 1979 Legislative Councillor 2022
ECC Election Committee Lai Tung-kwok NPP Pro-Beijing (1951-11-12)12 November 1951 Legislative Councillor 2022
ECC Election Committee Lau Chi-pang Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1960 (1960) Associate Vice President of Lingnan University 2022
FC Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication Kenneth Fok Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing (1979-07-02)2 July 1979 Merchant 2022
FC Real Estate and Construction Louis Loong Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1951 (1951) Business Executive 2022
GC Kowloon East Ngan Man-yu DAB Pro-Beijing (1986-08-31)31 August 1986 Legislative Councillor
Kwun Tong District Councillor
2022
ECC Election Committee Carmen Kan Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1968 (1968) Solicitor 2022
ECC Election Committee Tan Yueheng Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1962 (1962) Chairman of BOCOM International Holdings 2022
ECC Election Committee So Cheung-wing Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1960 2022
FC Commercial (Third) Yim Kong Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1972 (1972) Business Executive 2022
Supplementary members
ECC Election Committee Adrian Ho NPP Pro-Beijing 1977 (1977) Company Director 2022 (b)
ECC Election Committee Shang Hailong Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1982 (1982) Merchant 2022 (b)
ECC Election Committee Chan Wing-kwong DAB Pro-Beijing 1963 (1963) Chinese Medicine Practitioner
Legislative Councillor
2022 (b)
ECC Election Committee William Wong Nonpartisan Pro-Beijing 1960 (1960) Professor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong 2022 (b)

Geographical constituencies

The Geographical Constituency (GC) seats are returned by universal suffrage. 20 seats of the Legislative Council are returned by GCs through single non-transferable vote with a district magnitude of 2 ("binomial system"). The binomial system was instituted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in its amendment to Annex 2 of the Basic Law on 30 March 2021.

Geographical constituency Number of voters[31] Number of seats Voting system
Hong Kong Island East 424,849 2 Single non-transferable vote
Hong Kong Island West 374,795
Kowloon East 475,223
Kowloon West 381,484
Kowloon Central 454,595
New Territories South East 472,751
New Territories North 431,604
New Territories North West 468,752
New Territories South West 510,558
New Territories North East 478,252

Geographical constituencies were first introduced in Hong Kong's first legislative election with direct elections in 1991. The electoral system and boundaries of GCs have since changed:

Election Year Voting system Number of constituencies District magnitude Total number of GC seats Proportion of LegCo seats
1991 Plurality-at-large 9 constituencies 2 seats 18 seats 29.5%
1995 First-past-the-post voting 20 constituencies 1 seat 20 seats 33.3%
1998 Proportional representation

(Largest remainder method: Hare quota)

5 constituencies 3-9 seats 20 seats 33.3%
2000 24 seats 40%
2004 30 seats 50%
2008
2012 35 seats 50%
2016
2021 Single non-transferable vote 10 constituencies 2 seats 20 seats 22.2%
Vote share of Hong Kong political parties, 1991–2021

Between 1998 and 2016, the voting system adopted in GCs is a system of party-list proportional representation, with seats allocated by the largest remainder method using the Hare quota as the quota for election.

Geographical constituencies No. of Seats
1998 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016
Hong Kong Island 4 5 6 6 7 6
Kowloon East 3 4 5 4 5 5
Kowloon West 3 4 4 5 5 6
New Territories East 5 5 7 7 9 9
New Territories West 5 6 8 8 9 9
Total 20 24 30 30 35 35

Functional constituencies

Under the 2021 Hong Kong electoral changes, 28 functional constituencies (FC) return 30 members. The Labour Functional Constituency returns three members by block voting. The other FCs return one member each with first-past-the-post voting.

The 2021 electoral reform saw the dissolution of District Council (First) and District Council (Second) FCs. Three existing FCs were reconstituted: the Information Technology FC reorganised as the Technology & Innovation FC; the Medical FC and Health Services FC combined to form the Medical and Health Services FC. Two new FCs were established, namely the Commercial (Third) and the HKSAR Deputies to the National People's Congress, HKSAR Members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and Representatives of Relevant National Organisations FCs. Functional constituencies are now principally elected by body votes; the number of FCs with individual votes were reduced, together with elimination of mixed individual and body voting systems.

Functional constituency Number of registered electors
Bodies Individuals Total
1 Heung Yee Kuk   161 161
2 Agriculture and Fisheries 176   176
3 Insurance 126   126
4 Transport 223   223
5 Education   85,117 85,117
6 Legal   7,549 7,549
7 Accountancy   27,778 27,778
8 Medical And Health Service   55,523 55,523
9 Engineering   10,772 10,772
10 Architectural, Surveying and Planning   9,123 9,123
11 Labour 697   697
12 Social Welfare   13,974 13,974
13 Real Estate and Construction 463   463
14 Tourism 192   192
15 Commercial (First) 1,041   1,041
16 Commercial (Second) 421   421
17 Commercial (Third) 288   288
18 Industrial (First) 421   421
19 Industrial (Second) 592   592
20 Finance 114   114
21 Financial Services 760   760
22 Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication 257   257
23 Import and Export 231   231
24 Textiles and Garment 348   348
25 Wholesale and Retail 2,015   2,015
26 Technology and Innovation 73   73
27 Catering 141   141
28 HKSAR members of NPC and CPPCC, representatives of national organisations   678 678
Total 8,579 210,675 219,254

The following FCs were abolished in the 2021 electoral reform.

Between 1998 and 2016, the Heung Yee Kuk, Agriculture and Fisheries, Insurance, and Transport FCs where a preferential elimination system is used due to the small number of voters. In the preferential elimination system, a voter must indicate preferences rather than approval/disapproval or a single choice. District Council (Second) uses the same voting rule in Geographical constituencies for the 5 seats.

Before the 2021 elections, neither the Heung Yee Kuk nor the Commercial (Second) FCs have held an actual election, as only one candidate has stood for each FC in every election since their establishment in 1991 and 1985, respectively.

Election Committee Constituency

The Election Committee constituency was one of the three constituencies designed in the Basic Law of Hong Kong next to the directly elected geographical constituencies and the indirectly elected functional constituencies for the first and second-term Legislative Council in the early SAR period. With the last British Governor Chris Patten's electoral reform, the ECC was composed of all elected District Board members who had been elected in 1994. The Single Transferable Vote system was used in the 1995 election.[33]

After the handover of Hong Kong, the ECC was allocated 10 seats out of the total 60 seats in the SAR Legislative Council, comprising all members of the Election Committee which also elected the Chief Executive every five years. The size of the constituency reduced to six seats in 2000 and was entirely abolished and replaced by the directly elected geographical constituency seats in the 2004 election. The plurality-at-large voting system was used in 1998 and 2000.

In the 2021 electoral overhaul, the Election Committee constituency was reintroduced, taking 40 of the 90 seats, almost half, of the Legislative Council with plurality-at-large voting system. The electorate is composed of all newly expanded 1,500 members in the Election Committee.

Committee system

In order to perform the important functions of scrutinizing bills, approving public expenditure and monitoring Government's work, a committee system is established.[34]

Standing Committees

  • House Committee
    • Parliamentary Liaison Subcommittee
  • Finance Committee
    • Establishment Subcommittee
    • Public Works Subcommittee
  • Public Accounts Committee[35]
  • Committee on Members' Interests
  • Committee on Rules of Procedure

Panels

  • Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services
  • Panel on Commerce and Industry
  • Panel on Constitutional Affairs
  • Panel on Development
  • Panel on Economic Development
  • Panel on Education
  • Panel on Environmental Affairs
  • Panel on Financial Affairs
  • Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene
  • Panel on Health Services
  • Panel on Home Affairs
  • Panel on Housing
  • Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting
  • Panel on Manpower
  • Panel on Public Service
  • Panel on Security
  • Panel on Transport
  • Panel on Welfare Services

President of the Legislative Council

Andrew Leung, the incumbent President of the Legislative Council.

From the establishment of the Legislative Council in 1843 to 1993, the Governor was the President and a member of the council, and until 1917 the Governor was required to act with the advice but not necessary the consent of the Legislative Council. The Letters Patent of 1917 changed such practice by requiring the Governor to act "with advice and consent" of the Legislative Council.

Under the Basic Law (Article 72), the President has the powers and functions to preside over meetings, decide on the agenda, including giving priority to government bills for inclusion in the agenda, decide on the time of meetings, call special sessions during the recess, call emergency sessions on the request of the Chief Executive, and exercise other powers and functions as prescribed in the rules of procedure of the Legislative Council. However, the president of the legislative council may not vote in most situations regarding government bills, and is encouraged to remain impartial towards all matters in the LegCo. The President of the Legislative Council has to meet the eligibility requirements set out in the Basic Law that he or she shall be a Chinese citizen of not less than 40 years of age, who is a permanent resident of the HKSAR with no right of abode in any foreign country and has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 20 years.[36]

The President is elected by and from among Council members. The first President (1997–2008) was Rita Fan; the incumbent president, elected in 2016, is Andrew Leung of the pro-Beijing Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong.

Primacy of President

In a controversial move directed at reining in democratic legislators (most of whom were elected by universal suffrage and six of whose seats had been vacated by a controversial court order of disqualification), amendments to the Rules of Procedure were passed on 15 December 2017 giving sweeping powers to the President to control the business of the legislature. Among them is the power to vet proposed motions and amendments to bills, require legislators to explain them and to reject or merge them. Prior notice must be given of any notice of motion and the President may reconvene the chamber immediately after any failure to meet quorum.[37]

Procedure

The quorum for meetings of the council is half of all LegCo Members; while the quorum for meetings of a committee of the whole during second reading of bills is 20, i.e. only 22 per cent of membership, having been reduced from 35 on 15 December 2017.[38]

After the 15 December 2017 amendments to procedure, a petition is to be submitted to the House Committee only with at least 35 signatures of members, effectively blocking democrat-sponsored scrutiny of government action.[37]

Passage of Bills

Passage of bills introduced by the government require only a simple majority of votes of the members of the Legislative Council present; whereas passage of motions, bills or amendments to government bills introduced by individual LegCo members shall require a simple majority of votes of each of the two groups of members present: namely members returned by the Election Committee and members returned by functional constituencies and geographical constituencies.[39]

Motions on amendments to the Basic Law require a two-thirds vote in the Legislative Council, without a specific requirement in each group of constituencies. After passing the council, the Basic Law amendment must obtain the consent of two-thirds of Hong Kong's deputies to the National People's Congress, and also the Chief Executive (the Chief Executive is vested with the veto power). The National People's Congress reserves the sole power to amend the Basic Law.[12]

Traditionally, the President does not vote. However, this convention is not a constitutional requirement.[40]

Elections of the Legislative Council

Legislative Council general elections are held every four years in accordance with Article 69 of the Basic Law of HKSAR. The most recent election was held on 19 December 2021. The pro-Beijing camp had absolute control of the Legislative Council with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) as the largest party.

Seating arrangement

In a typical Council meeting in the old Legislative chamber, members were seated to the left and front of the President's chair in the Chamber patterned after the adversarial layout of Westminster system legislatures. The three rows to the right were reserved for government officials and other people attending the meetings.[41]

At the new LegCo site at Tamar, members sit facing the President (and council officers) in a hemicycle seating arrangement.

At present, the Secretariat, headed by the Secretary General, provides administrative support and services to the Council through its ten divisions. In addition to being the chief executive of the Secretariat, the Secretary General is also the Clerk to the Legislative Council responsible for advising the President on all matters relating to the procedure of the council.[42]

List of Legislative Council compositions

Composition of political bloc since 1985 election:
  Conservative camp (later merged into Pro-Beijing camp)
  Unaffiliated members
  Ex-officio members

The following lists the composition of Legislative Council seats since its establishment:[43]

Number of seats in Legislative Council according to election method

Officials[c] Appointed Indirectly elected Directly
elected
Total
by Electoral College
(inc. Election Committee)
by functional
constituencies
1843 4 4
1844 6 6
1845 4 4
1850 6 2 8
1857 6 3 9
1858 7 3 10
1868 6 4 10
1883 7 5 12
1896 8 6 14
1917 8 6 14
1928 10 8 18
1964 13 13 26
1972 15 15 30
1976 23 23 46
1977 25 25 50
1980 27 27 54
1983 29 29 58
1984 29 32 61
1985–88 11 22 12 12 57
1988–91 11 20 12 14 57
1991–95 4 18 21 18 61
1995–97 10 30 20 60
1997–98 60 60
1998–2000 10 30 20 60
2000–04 6 30 24 60
2004–08 30 30 60
2008–12 30 30 60
2012–16 35 35 70
2016–21 35 35 70
2021–25 40 30 20 90

The following chart lists the composition of the Legislative Councils of Hong Kong since the Special Administrative Region (SAR) period from 1998, the composition and diagram indicate the seats controlled by the camps (green for the pro-democracy camp and red for the pro-Beijing camp) at the beginning of the sessions.

Term (Election) Diagram Composition
(by alignment)
President DAB FTU BPA NPP Lib DP Civ
1st (1998) 20:40




Rita Fan
(Independent)
9 10 13
2nd (2000) 21:39




Rita Fan
(Independent)
11 8 12
3rd (2004) 25:35




Rita Fan
(Independent)
12 1 10 9
4th (2008) 23:37




Jasper Tsang
(DAB)
13 1 7 8 5
5th (2012) 27:1:42




Jasper Tsang
(DAB)
13 6 2 5 6 6
6th (2016) 29:1:40




Andrew Leung
(BPA)
12 5 7 3 4 7 6
7th (2021) 1:89




Andrew Leung
(BPA)
19 8 7 5 4

Officers of the Legislative Council

Services to members were originally provided by the Office of the Clerk to the Legislative Council which was part of the Government Secretariat. Additional support later came from other administrative units, i.e. the Unofficial Members of the Executive and Legislative Councils (UMELCO) Secretariat and its variants, in consideration of the gradually rising volume of work in Council business.

With the establishment of UMELCO in 1963, public officers were seconded to UMELCO to assist members to deal with public complaints and build up public relations with the local community. During their secondments, public officers took instructions only from Council members. The practice remained when the Office of the Members of the Executive and Legislative Councils (OMELCO) replaced UMELCO in 1986.[44]

In 1991, the OMELCO Secretariat was incorporated. As a result of the complete separation of membership of the Executive and Legislative Councils, OMELCO was renamed the Office of Members of Legislative Council (OMLEGCO).

The Legislative Council Commission, a statutory body independent of the Government, was established under The Legislative Council Commission Ordinance on 1 April 1994. The Commission integrated the administrative support and services to the council by the Office of the Clerk to the Legislative Council and the OMLEGCO Secretariat into an independent Legislative Council Secretariat. The Commission replaced all civil servants by contract staff in the 1994–1995 session.[45]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d Ceased to hold office as a member of Legislative Council upon resignation on 19 June 2022.
  2. ^ Ceased to hold office as a member of Legislative Council upon resignation on 27 December 2022.
  3. ^ Including the Governor.

References

  1. ^ "2021 Legislative Council General Election - Election Brief". Elections.gov.hk.
  2. ^ "Hong Kong downgraded from 'flawed democracy' to 'hybrid regime' as city drops 12 places in Economist's democracy index". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  3. ^ "Hong Kong electoral reform: LegCo passes 'patriots' law". BBC News. 27 May 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  4. ^ "LegCo Today". Legislative Council Commission.
  5. ^ a b c d "History of the Legislature". Legislative Council. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Hong Kong electoral reform: LegCo passes 'patriots' law". BBC News. 27 May 2021. ... the Legislative Council (LegCo), which has been dominated by pro-Beijing lawmakers since a mass opposition walkout last year.... While overall seats will increase from 70 to 90, the number of directly elected representatives will fall from 35 to 20.
  7. ^ "A Companion to the history, rules and practices of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region - Part I: An introduction to the Legislative Council, its history, organisation and procedure - Chapter 3". Legislative Council Commission.
  8. ^ "HISTORY OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL". Legislative Council of Hong Kong.
  9. ^ "Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region - The Establishment of the Provisional Legislative Council". The Legislative Council Commission.
  10. ^ Cheung, Gary; Wong, Albert & Fung, Fanny (25 June 2010) "Cheers and jeers for political reform vote", South China Morning Post
  11. ^ "Hong Kong legislators reject China-backed reform bill". CNN. 19 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d "Basic Law" (PDF). Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau. May 2021. pp. 106–107, 217–224.
  13. ^ "BREAKING: Beijing's legislature passes unanimous ruling to interpret Hong Kong's mini-constitution over oath saga". Hong Kong Free Press. 7 November 2016.
  14. ^ "Hong Kong lawmaker disqualification ruling 'opens huge floodgate', lawyers say". South China Morning Post. 15 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Hong Kong's leader rejects foreign criticism over barring of democracy activist Agnes Chow from legislative by-election". South China Morning Post. 30 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Ousted pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker Lau Siu-lai barred from Kowloon West Legislative Council by-election". South China Morning Post. 12 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Hong Kong protesters smash up legislature in direct challenge to China". Reuters. Archived from the original on 1 July 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Beijing decides current Hong Kong lawmakers can remain on until postponed election". Hong Kong Free Press. 11 August 2020.
  19. ^ "Hong Kong's pro-democracy legislators to resign en masse". Aljazeera. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  20. ^ "Xi Focus: Xi stresses "patriots governing Hong Kong" when hearing Carrie Lam's work report". Xinhua. 27 January 2021. Archived from the original on 22 November 2021. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  21. ^ "China approves Hong Kong election overhaul bill". Nikkei Asia. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  22. ^ a b "December date for Hong Kong Legco polls, key role for new chief convenor". South China Morning Post. 30 March 2021. Retrieved 9 April 2021. ... the Election Committee, which was expected to be filled by Beijing-loyalists.... The new members will include patriotic groups and members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to further reinforce the pro-establishment camp's control of the body.
  23. ^ "China formalises sweeping electoral shake-up for Hong Kong, demands loyalty". Reuters. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  24. ^ Chau, Candice (18 January 2023). "Hong Kong press group slams omission of lawmakers' names from legislature meeting minutes". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  25. ^ Mok, Lea (14 April 2023). "Half of Hongkongers unable to name any serving lawmaker, poll finds". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved 22 April 2023.
  26. ^ Chau, Candice (10 May 2023). "Hong Kong lawmakers unanimously vote to let city leader restrict overseas lawyers from national security cases". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  27. ^ "Hong Kong lawmakers have 'ears wide open' to feedback, John Lee insists". South China Morning Post. 5 September 2023. Retrieved 5 September 2023.
  28. ^ "Heritage Impact Assessment" (PDF). LWK Conservation Ltd. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 October 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  29. ^ "The Legislative Council Building" (PDF). Legislative Council Secretariat.
  30. ^ "Taking of Legislative Council Oath" (pdf). Legislative Council of Hong Kong. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  31. ^ "No. of electors in the 2021 final registers". Registration and Electoral Office. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  32. ^ Distribution of registered electors by functional constituencies in 2021,
  33. ^ Report on the 1995 Legislative General Election, Boundary and Election Commission
  34. ^ "LegCo Today". Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Administrative Region. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  35. ^ Public Accounts Committee (Hong Kong) https://www.legco.gov.hk/general/english/pac/pac_1620.htm
  36. ^ "President of the Legislative Council". The Legislative Council Commission.
  37. ^ a b Cheng, Kris (15 December 2017). "Hong Kong legislature passes controversial house rule changes taking powers from lawmakers". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  38. ^ "R.17, Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Council of the HKSAR". Legislative Council of the Hong Kong. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  39. ^ Legislative Council Secretariat Education Service Team (January 2022). "HOW LAWS ARE MADE" (PDF). Legislative Council in Brief No. 7.
  40. ^ Michael DeGolyer (24 July 2008). "Legco dice loaded from the start" Archived 7 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. The Standard.
  41. ^ "Knowledge of the Legislative Council". Legislative Council Commission.
  42. ^ "Legislative Council Secretariat". The Legislative Council Commission.
  43. ^ "Composition of the Legislative Council" (PDF). Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  44. ^ "Possible duplication of work of the LegCo Redress System with the work of The Office of The Ombudsman" (PDF). Legislative Council of Hong Kong.
  45. ^ "The Legislative Council Commission". Legislative Council of Hong Kong.

Further reading

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