Elections in Hong Kong did not see such a small number of voters: just over 30 per cent of eligible voters turned out. The victory came as expected from the pro-Chinese candidates. These “patriots”, as Beijing calls them, hold almost all the seats in the parliament of the special administrative region.
It was already clear that the candidates who rallied behind Beijing would win. Parliament was expanded from 70 to 90 seats, but voters managed to appoint only 20 deputies, all of whom were approved by a pro-China committee. Of the handful of candidates who call themselves “moderates,” none won a seat.
The opposition was critical of the course of events. The largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, did not participate for the first time since 1997. That year, control of the former British crown colony was transferred from London to China. Many pro-democracy activists fled, were arrested, or were not allowed to participate in the elections.
China has passed a draconian security law in Hong Kong that would allow for the suppression of any form of dissent. The election law has also been amended under the guidance of Beijing. China is tightening the reins under pressure from the protest movement in Hong Kong, which since 2019 has manifested itself with sometimes violent demonstrations.
Hong Kong Governor Carrie Lam refused to explain the low turnout. She noted that 1.3 million people are still voting. “You can’t say it was an election that didn’t have broad popular support.”
The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand issued a joint statement condemning the holding of the election. Countries are deeply concerned about what they call the “erosion of democratic elements in the electoral system” in Hong Kong.
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