Hong Kong Overwhelmingly Votes Pro-Democracy in Elections in Stunning Blow to Beijing
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is now ready to “listen humbly” to the public after pro-democracy candidates overwhelmingly won in the recent local elections.
The pro-democracy camp won 17 out of the 18 district councils, claiming an overwhelming majority of the 452 seats in the community-level elections held on Sunday, according to Reuters.
Voter turnout reached a record 71% of the city’s 4.1 million registered voters, well exceeding the 47% who cast their ballots four years ago.
The Hong Kong democrats’ landslide victory marks a stunning defeat to the Beijing-backed administration which has historically held a majority of the seats in the councils. Observers note that the election results prove public support for the protest movement, which has been organizing demonstrations against Lam’s administration since June.
Millions of Hong Kong citizens poured into the streets as a response to a bill introduced by Lam’s government that would have allowed extraditions to China. While the bill was later withdrawn, the movement has already expanded and morphed into a protest on democratic liberties.
As the protests progressed, activists have sought five key demands from Lam’s government. The demands include the withdrawal of the bill, an investigation into alleged police brutality and misconduct, the release of arrested protesters, a complete retraction of the official characterization of the protests as “riots,” full democratic election of the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive, and Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s resignation.
Protests partially subsided during the local elections for 452 district council seats on November 24, Associated Press reports. Many expressed that the elections will serve as a litmus test on public support for the pro-democracy protesters.
Lam has previously responded to the demands saying the election results would eventually prove that the Hong Kong people did, in fact, support her administration.
On Monday, Lam stated that her government “respects the election results.”
“There are various analyses and interpretations in the community in relation to the results, and quite a few are of the view that the results reflect people’s dissatisfaction with the current situation and the deep-seated problems in society,” Lam said in a statement.
With the election results, the Hong Kong democrats tripled their seats from about 124 to 389, enabling them to capture the 117 seats in the Election Committee District Council sub-sectors which will be responsible for electing the Chief Executive.
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), the main Pro-Chinese party, received its largest defeat in history, losing nearly a hundred seats. Meanwhile, Regina Ip’s New People’s Party also lost the race. Multiple well-known pro-Beijing politicians lost re-election, including Junius Ho, who was a key anti-protest figure.