Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Camp Takes Narrow Lead

The results of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections are in, and pro-democracy candidates won the majority of seats, but not as many as supporters had hoped for. Voice of America reports on the election results:

Official results released early Monday show pro-democracy candidates won 18 of the 35 legislative seats directly elected by voters in Hong Kong’s geographical constituencies. Sixteen of the remaining seats went to pro-Beijing and pro-business candidates allied to Hong Kong’s government, and one went to an independent.

Turnout in the geographic constituencies was 53 percent, or 1.8 million voters, up sharply from 45 percent in the last election in 2008.

Re-elected pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan described the results as “very disappointing.” Pro-democracy candidates competed for seats in multiple party lists that reflected divisions within the movement, resulting in a splitting of pro-democracy votes that helped pro-establishment candidates to win.
The elections were held in the wake of major protests against planned curriculum changes - since cancelled – that would introduce “national education” into Hong Kong schools, which opponents feared would amount to political indoctrination by Beijing. Following the protests, many observers expected voters to support pro-democracy candidates in the elections. Hong Kong Democratic Party Chairman Albert Ho resigned immediately following the election after taking responsibility for his party’s poor showing. From Reuters:
…Deep divisions across pro-democracy political parties and the lack of a broad, co-ordinated strategy seem to have allowed better mobilized pro-Beijing, pro-establishment parties to hold their ground despite the tide of discontent.

“It is going to get more fragmented (the legislature) because I think the Democratic Party has suffered a setback … and I think the bargaining power of the whole camp has diminished as a result,” said political scientist Ma Ngok at the central vote counting centre on Monday.

“They have not gained any ground despite the seemingly favorable political climate.”

While a University of Hong Kong exit poll suggested the democratic camp might clinch several of five so-called new district council “super-seats” that have given these polls a slightly more democratic flavor, the democrats themselves conceded a lackluster showing for the 35 directly elected seats in the 70-seat chamber.

By Monday morning Hong Kong time, it did appear that pro-democracy representatives made up at least one-third of the LegCo, the proportion needed to veto amendments to the territory’s Basic Law.

September 9, 2012 10:55 PM
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Categories: Hong Kong, Politics