From EIU ViewsWire:
Although Tung Chee-hwa has yet to confirm rumours of his resignation, most political observers have accepted the retirement of Hong Kong’s chief executive as inevitable and are discussing issues related to his succession. The processes by which these issues are resolved will highlight the limits on Hong Kong’s political autonomy, and could materially undermine that autonomy further.
A key question is whether the person eventually selected to replace Mr Tung, after the initial transition period of up to six months under an acting chief executive, will serve out only the remaining two years of Mr Tung’s unfinished term, or begin a full five-year term from scratch. Uncertainty over which is legally correct could prompt Beijing to rule on the matter, but doing so would constitute substantive interference in Hong Kong’s political affairs. Lawmakers and legal experts are split, although the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s mini-constitution) says only that the chief executive’s term is five years. The Hong Kong government last year endorsed this position, but this has not prevented widespread speculation that Beijing is keen for Mr Tung’s successor to serve only a trial period until 2007.