Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp on Monday won a landslide majority in the district council elections held on Sunday that saw a record turnout, South China Morning Post reported. The polls – the first after protest began five months ago – were held for the post of 452 district councillors, and was a litmus test for the current regime as the pro-Beijing parties held a majority of the seats.
The pro-democracy candidates won 17 out of 18 district councils and secured more than 340 seats. The pro-Beijing camp could retain only one council, which is the Islands district that has 10 elected seats, of which eight automatically go to the pro-government rural chiefs.
Following the results, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said in a statement that the administration respected the results. “After the social unrest in the past five months, I firmly believe that the vast majority of the public would share my wish for the peaceful, safe and orderly situation to continue,” she said.
Lam said the elections were conducted in a “peaceful, safe, and orderly manner”, and that analysis of the results claim that it reflects the general population’s dissatisfaction with the prevailing situation and the “deep-seated problems in [the] society”. She claimed that her administration would “listen to the opinions of members of the public humbly and seriously reflect”.
The district council elections generated worldwide attention this time as the leaders get to choose 117 representatives from among themselves who will be a part of the 1,200-member committee that appoints the chief executive, BBC reported. The election results indicate that all of the 117 seats may go to the pro-democracy side.
Over 69% of the registered electorate had voted by the evening when polls closed. The number of people who voted was around 2.7 million. This is a record turnout, far surpassing the 47% who voted in the 2016 Legislative Council polls.
The Hong Kong protests had initially been organised to oppose an extradition bill that proposed to allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. However, they soon evolved into a pro-democracy backlash against the city’s government and its political masters in Beijing.
On October 23, the Hong Kong administration, led by Lam, formally withdrew the extradition bill. However, the administration accepted just one of the pro-democracy protestors’ demands. The protestors have demanded that Lam step down from her post, an inquiry into the alleged police brutality during the protests, retraction of the word “riots” to describe the demonstrations, amnesty for all those arrested for protesting, and universal suffrage.