republicworld– Pro-Beijing candidates swept the first “patriots only” Hong Kong legislative polls, beating moderates and independents after China amended election laws to reduce the number of directly elected lawmakers for the semi-autonomous country. The Beijing supporters claimed all 20 seats in the available geographic constituencies. The civic polls, however, witnessed a record low turnout, reflecting a rift between citizens and political forum, following the overhauled polling process by the mainland.
Speaking at a presser earlier today (December 20), Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said that she was “satisfied” with the election and thanked the voters for being a part of “an important election following improvements to the electoral system.”
It is pertinent to mention that the said Legislative Council election was originally supposed to be held in September last year but was postponed due to COVID. The urgency to hold national elections in Hong Kong came after Xi Jinping-led Chinese Communist Party (CCP) passed the draconian National Security Law (NSL), under which a mainland-elected commission reduced the nomination of pro-democracy candidates from 35 to 20 for seats expanding from 70 to 90 seats.
Meanwhile, as the elections conclude amid a widespread crackdown on pro-democracy supporters, Lam is expected to visit Beijing later today (December 20) to provide a full account of Hong Kong’s latest political and economic scenario to Beijing, the Associated Press reported.
Hong Kong reports lowest voter turnout since 1997
The voter turnout on Sunday remained 30.2% – a significant low since the British handed Hong Kong to China in 1997. As per a government press release, cited by CNN, the provisional turnout by the end of the electoral process stayed at 30.2%, which was far lower compared to its last low in 2000 at 43.6%.
“In this election, 1.35 million voters cast their votes. They did not just return candidates of their choice to LegCo (Legislative Council), and I think it was also because of their support for the improved electoral system,” said Lam, as quoted by the Associated Press. In a bid to boost the turnout, the Hong Kong administration also offered free transport for reaching the polling booth. Nevertheless, citizens appeared to turn up at skiing and hiking trails availing the free transport, CNN reported.