The Latest: Pro-democracy group does well in Hong Kong vote
HONG KONG (AP) — The Latest on the Hong Kong election (all times local):
6:25 a.m. Monday
Partial returns show that pro-democracy candidates won nearly half of the seats in Hong Kong’s local elections as voters sent a clear signal of support for the anti-government protests that rocked the Chinese territory for more than five months.
A record 71% of the city’s 4.1 million registered voters cast ballots Sunday, well exceeding the 47% turnout in the same election four years ago, election officials said.
So far, pro-democracy candidates have won 201 out of 452 seats in 18 district councils. Previously, the bloc had fewer than a third of the seats.
Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing political party suffered the biggest setback, with 155 of its 182 candidates defeated.
Voting has ended in Hong Kong with a massive turnout in an election seen as a barometer of public support for pro-democracy protests that have rocked the Chinese territory since June.
After polls closed at 10:30 p.m., the Electoral Affairs Commission did not immediately provide the final turnout rate. But at 9:30 p.m., it said that 69% of the city’s 4.1 million registered voters had cast ballots. That sharply exceeded the 47% turnout in the same election four years ago.
The district council elections were carried out peacefully, with hardly any voters seen wearing protesters’ trademark black or face masks.
David Alton, a member of the British House of Lords who is among a group of international observers, hailed the high turnout and said “it shows that there is a great groundswell in Hong Kong who believes in democracy.”
Voters are turning out in droves for a hotly contested election in Hong Kong that has become a referendum on support for anti-government protests.
Elections chief Barnabas Fung says 17.4% of registered voters cast ballots in the first three hours of Sunday’s polling. That compares to 6.8% for the same election four years ago.
Interest is high in the normally low-profile district council elections. A strong showing by the opposition would indicate that the public continues to stand behind the pro-democracy protests, even as they turn increasingly violent.
Both sides urged people to vote early, and long lines extended out of polling stations for blocks.
Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong has said he will keep up the fight even though he was disqualified from running in elections seen as a bellwether on public support for anti-government protests.
Wong says after voting in Sunday’s district council elections that people can protest at the ballot box or on the street for democracy and against a police crackdown on demonstrations.
The government banned him from running because of his advocacy for self-determination for Hong Kong. China does not allow any talk of independence for the semi-autonomous territory.
Wong has urged people around the world to stand with Hong Kong to put the election under a global spotlight.
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has cast her vote in elections seen as a referendum on whether the public still supports long-running protests against her government.
She said Sunday that organizing this year’s district council elections was extremely challenging because of the unrest, but that the vote should be relatively peaceful and calm thanks to the efforts of all involved.
Protesters hope that a strong showing for the opposition will indicate that the public continues to support the pro-democracy movement, even as it has become more violent and disruptive to daily life.
Voting is underway in Hong Kong elections that have become a barometer of public support for anti-government protests now in their sixth month.
The polls opened Sunday morning for 452 seats in the city’s 18 district councils.
The councils are largely advisory and have little power. But the election has taken on symbolic importance in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.
A strong showing by the opposition would show that the public still supports the pro-democracy movement, even as the protests have become increasingly violent.
The ruling camp in Hong Kong and the national government in Beijing hope that the unrest and disruption to daily life will turn voters against the movement.