The nearly 6-month long protests in Hong Kong may have reached a turning point on Sunday as “Pro-Democracy” candidates won 17 of 18 districts, and over 76% of elected seats. More than 2.94 million people voted, including 390,000 newly registered voters, who had registered to vote in the wake of the protest movement.
The unprecedented turnout of citizens voting in their local districts sent a clear message to Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam that Hong Kong’s citizens stand on the side of those who have demonstrated against her administration and its policies for almost 6-months.
According to election results, as reported by the South China Morning Post, Pro-democracy candidates won 388 of 452 district council seats, a massive increase from the 116 seats that they had held. The pro-government bloc saw a total collapse of its power. Prior to the elections, this group held 292 seats, but its candidates lost 233 of those seats, and the final election results show them with only 59 seats. Independents won 5 seats.
|Election results as reported by the South China Morning Post and other Hong Kong media outlets|
Many people were worried that the elections would be marred by protests and violence as previous weekend protests have seen, but for the first time in many months, Hong Kong saw weekend calm as people turned out to vote on Sunday in historic numbers. More than 70% of eligible voters participated in Sunday’s elections, surpassing previous election participation, which has averaged in the mid-40% range.
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Officer said on Monday that she understood that many people considered the elections results a referendum on her government and policies and that she was going to “deeply reflect” about what the results mean for Hong Kong.
Ms. Lam said her main concerns were a de-escalation of violence and called on the newly elected district council members, especially those who have been active in the pro-democracy movement to work with her government.
Hong Kong’s citizens commented about Sunday’s election results on social media and reminded protesters that they still have four demands that the government has not met. The government has agreed to only one demand, the withdrawal of a much-hated extradition bill.
News analysts also cautioned the pro-democracy candidates’ that they shouldn’t be overconfident of their victory and that their share of the vote was only 55.2%, Independents 3.9% and pro-government candidates received 40.9% of the vote.