A bit more on the background of Occupy Hong Kong's territory-wide straw referendum, which is due to end on Sunday, from Suzanne Pepper:
So discouraged were they after May 6 that they had set themselves the lowest possible bar for success. They said that if turnout did not reach at least 100,000 for their online citywide plebiscite, then scheduled for June 20-22, the three of them would have to contemplate defeat. They planned to retreat for a period of quiet contemplation and soul searching as to why their leadership had failed.
Instead, one day into the exercise, they could announce that 400,000 people had come forward. With another week yet to go, they were contemplating not failure but a huge success. By Sunday evening, June 22, the turnout was over 700,000.
If they'd left it at that point it would have been a brilliant coup. But because of huge Ddos attacks on its voting site, Occupy decided to let the vote roll out for another week. The number who participated now stands at just under 750,000, at time of writing. In other words, the numbers voting have gone down from roughly 350,000 per day over days one and two to 50,000 over five days. Not precisely a dribble, but hardly a torrent.
Part of the point of protest actions is that they have a representative function: they're the tip of the spear. And the bigger the protest, the bigger the implied shaft behind the tip. It would have had an incredibly strong impact if the voting had cut off at 700,000 over two days and who knows how many more people banging at the doors. They could have leveraged the ddos attacks against the voting site into outrage that Hong Kongers were being denied a vote even in a straw poll.
Now we do know 'how many more' – not that many. Voting in the Occupy referendum was secure, simple and easy to negotiate. By phone or internet, it takes maybe thirty seconds (Occupy set up physical polling booths as well for people who like or need to do it in person). By the time the vote ends people will have had eight days to take a minute out of their schedule to do something which, physically, doesn't amount to much more than a bit of clicktivism, amid massive local publicity. If you can't be bothered to do that then you're firmly in the can't be bothered column.
So instead of giving the impression of heading a mass movement of Hong Kong citizens who will not be denied a meaningful choice in their selection of Chief Executive, Occupy has revealed that maybe 15% of Hong Kong's adult population actually care enough about the issue to get minimally involved. In letting the vote drag on for so long, Occupy has shown its opponents the exact size of the spear it is holding, and it isn't big enough.
Meanwhile the counter-attack from the establishment coalition – Beijing, local tycoonocracy, multinational corporations – has already begun, led by the accountants.