- The pro-democracy bloc, which defends the territory's autonomy from China, has 347 of the 452 seats up for election.
- Carrie Lam stated that she would "humbly listen" to the people she represents, following the surprising outcome of the district elections.
- Chinese FM Wang Yi said that "no matter what kind of things happen in Hong Kong, Hong Kong is a part of Chinese territory."
Pro-democracy parties won an overwhelming election victory in Hong Kong, obtaining a large majority of the seats for district councilors. The result serves as a political support gauge for the movement behind the protests that began in June and have been ongoing in the region.
The pro-democracy bloc, which defends the territory’s autonomy from China, has 347 of the 452 seats up for election. Pro-Beijing candidates won 60 seats, whereas independents— many of them pro-democracy— managed 45. The numbers represent a big rise that nearly tripled the seats in comparison to the 2015 municipal elections.
Elections took place throughout Sunday in a calm environment, resulting in a massive voter turnout. The participation rate was a record 71.2%, the highest ever in Hong Kong’s elections history. In a region with 7.5 million inhabitants, nearly 3 million of the 4.1 million registered voters voted, 1 million more than in 2015. Most of them are youths between 18 and 20 years old. Turnout was well above the 58 percent mark in the 2016 legislative elections, a sign that the local society is becoming increasingly politicized.
The result puts Chief Executive Carrie Lam in a difficult situation, in that the pro-democracy parties are advocating for practices such as universal suffrage and the direct election of the Head of Government. Currently, the chief executive is chosen by an electoral committee comprised of 1,200 people, many of whom are loyal to Beijing. The protestors are also advocating for greater autonomy for Hong Kong, a former British colony, from China.
Leadership to Listen to the People
Lam stated that she would “humbly listen” to the people she represents, following the surprising outcome of the district elections. The election is interpreted as a clear signal of support for the protests that have characterized Hong Kong in recent months.
“The government will certainly listen humbly to citizens’ opinions and reflect on them seriously,” Lam said on Monday in a statement released by her government, in an apparent reaction to the results of the elections. She also stated that the Hong Kong 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,” she said in the statement.
District councils deal with everyday tasks such as managing garbage collection and urban planning and do not usually attract much attention. However, the result of this district election also got reactions from China, with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissing the message at which the election outcome pointed.
The Foreign Minister said that “no matter what kind of things happen in Hong Kong, Hong Kong is a part of Chinese territory.” Wang added, “any attempts to destroy Hong Kong or harm Hong Kong’s stability and development cannot possibly succeed.” The Chinese Foreign Minister was speaking to news reporters during his visit to Tokyo, on Monday.
In June, peaceful protests broke out to demand the suspension of an extradition bill with China, which was eventually withdrawn. However, demonstrations have continued for almost six months now, with protesters issuing more demands. In recent weeks, they have also become more violent.