The LEGislative COuncil is the parliament of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It's role includes enacting laws, levying taxes and managing public expenditure.

The Legislative Council also has the power to appoint and remove judges of the Court of Final Appeal and the Chief Judge of the High Court. Finally, like other parliaments, the LEGCO forms committees and monitors the activities of the government and the chief executive, who the LEGCO can impeach. Its role and powers are defined in Hong Kong's Basic Law (articles 66 to 79). Chris Patton introduced some wide-ranging reforms which the Chinese in Beijing didn't like, and since Hong Kong's handover the power and influence of the LEGCO has waned, but it still is a vocal opposition to the territory's Chief Executive, increasingly seen as imcompetent and undemocratic.

Hong Kong did not start as a democracy. The first semblence of representational government came in 1843, two years after the colony's founding, with just four members, including the Governor. In 1884 the Legislative Council was enlarged to seven official and five unofficial members, of which one was to be a Chinese. Yet it was only in 1985 that elections took place, with a President being chosen amongst the elected members. Previously most members being appointed by the Governor.

Unique to Hong Kong, members came not just from geographical constituencies, but also from 'functional constituencies' - electoral colleges based on occupational vocations like engineering and transport. Even geeks be impressed - there is a seat reserved for the information technology sector !

As defined in the Basic Law, the Legislative Council is composed of 60 members, with 24 Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections, six members by an Election Committee, and 30 Members by functional constituencies. Members serve for a fixed term of four years.


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