Hong Kong District Council election: Pro-democracy candidates win majority of seats, as pro-Beijing camp suffers historic defeat.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp has won a majority of seats in the District Council – the first time it has done so since the 1997 Handover. Sunday’s elections also delivered a stinging rebuke to the pro-Beijing camp, which saw some of its most prominent leaders defeated.
Photo: Galileo Cheng/HKFP.
Over 2.94 million voters showed up on Sunday for the biggest election in the city’s history, according to the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC). The turnout represented 71.2 per cent of eligible voters – a 25 percentage point rise when compared to the previous District Council election four years ago.
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has said the government will listen to the public with an open mind, after pro-Beijing candidates were resoundingly defeated in local elections. According to local media counts, the pro-democracy parties took 390 of 452 district council seats (nearly 90 per cent).
The election saw an unprecedented voter turnout of more than 71%. The result is being seen as a stinging rebuke of Ms Lam’s leadership through many months of protest and clashes. In a statement released online this morning, Ms Lam said the government respected the results.
For nearly six months demonstrations and unrest have continued unabated – they were sparked by a now withdrawn extradition bill. The protest movement has several key demands including direct popular elections and a probe into alleged police brutality.
Hong Kong’s voters turned out in record numbers Sunday for local council elections that the city’s pro-democracy movement hopes will pile pressure on the Beijing-backed government to heed their demands after months of violent protest.
Lengthy queues snaked out of polling stations across the territory in the election for 18 district councils, where high turnout is expected to benefit democratic forces.
The Electoral Affairs Commission said a record 56 percent of the 4.13 million citizens registered to vote had cast their ballots by Sunday evening.
It was already the highest turnout in Hong Kong’s history of district council elections post handover from British rule, with five hours of voting still to go.
The selection of 452 councillors — handling community-level concerns such as bus routes and garbage collection — traditionally generates little excitement, but has taken on new significance following months of political unrest.
Hong Kong has been battered by months of mass rallies and violent clashes pitting police against protesters who are agitating for direct popular elections of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s government, as well as a probe into alleged police brutality.
District councils have long been dominated by the pro-Beijing establishment, and voters seeking change hope that weakening that grip will give their movement fresh momentum.