The most favoured of four options put forward by the government was one to retain by-elections but to bar legislators who had resigned, Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Raymond Lam said.
The outcome of the two-month public consultation is a blow for the Hong Kong government, which wanted to ban by-elections altogether after three legislators resigned in 2010 to force by-elections.
The pro-democracy legislators took the action to force what they claimed would be a mini-referendum on democracy in the former British colony, infuriating officials in Beijing.
Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed officials tried to rush through legislation in July to ban by-elections and award seats to candidates from the previous polls if a legislator resigned or died mid-term.
The vote was called off and the public consultation announced after a walk-out by legislators and opposition from a crowd of more than 200,000 people taking part in an anti-government rally.
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