The Electoral Affairs Commission has reported a record voter turnout at the Hong Kong Legislative Council election that took place on Sunday. The poll was the first major election since the Special Administrative Region was hit by the 'Umbrella Revolution'- a pro-democracy occupy movement in 2014. Preliminary reports indicated that several anti-China candidates won seats to the legislative council, a development that is likely to disrupt relations with Beijing, Reuters reported.
The primary results indicated that the pro-democracy opposition would retain its one-third veto bloc in the 70-member assembly. With an unprecedented number of over 2.2 million voters, including those who flew in from across the globe, polling stations were forced to remain open past the 10.30pm deadline, CNN reported. The Electoral Affairs Commission recorded 58 per cent voter participation, a significant increase from 2012's 53 per cent.
The increase in voter participation appears to be a result of disappointment in the political status quo, which has resulted in the emergence of younger radical groups throwing their hat in the ring. The preliminary results suggested that Nathan Law, one of the student leaders of the Umbrella Movement, is set to be Hong Kong's youngest legislator at 23. Even though six pro-democracy candidates were disqualified in July for supporting the Chinese-controlled territory's independence, poll results indicate a favourable result for the new groups.
Control over the former British colony was returned to Beijing in 1997 with a "one country, two systems" agreement, that allowed for the territory's autonomy with certain restrictions for 50 years. In 2014, protestors agitated against China's "increasing interference which has been stifling dissent and Beijing's decision to vet potential candidates for the elections." The movement lasted for 79 days.
Pro-Beijing legislators usually secure the majority of the council's seats as the system has reservations for business and special interest groups. The results are expected to be declared by Monday evening.