Hundreds of Hong Kong district council seats go to pro-democracy candidates

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

On Sunday, Hong Kongers turned out more than 2.9 million strong to vote in their district-level elections. Over 80% of the 452 available district council seats went to pro-democracy candidates, often ousting pro-Beijing candidates, giving them control of 17 out of 18 of the area's districts.

The district council is the only level of Hong Kong government that is, as news sources noted, completely democratic, and the councilors make up about a tenth part of the body that elects the chief executive of Hong Kong. Most councilors' duties involve action at the neighborhood level, like maintaining parks, arranging trash collection, and dealing with pests, which in at least one case involved wild boars.

Although Hong Kong's district elections are, reportedly, usually quiet, this year not even one district council candidate ran unopposed. The turnout was about 71%, some 25% higher than last year.

Voter Kitty Mak told The Atlantic, "Today we are trying to do the best we can for Hong Kong right now. Every little step matters [...] It is a protest vote against an authoritarian government; we cannot tolerate this government's policies anymore."

Chinese University political scientist Ma Ngok said the turnout was seen as public support of the protesters who have demonstrated in Hong Kong since June. He noted, "The government and the pro-Beijing camp have always claimed they have public support [...] But now [...] this is a big slap in the face because the public has showed their real position in record numbers."

The city has been home to intense, occasionally violent pro-democracy protests since June of this year, some of which have shut down parts of the city. The protests began after the Hong Kong government proposed an amendment to a law to allow the government of mainland China to extradite anyone accused of a crime to the mainland to be prosecuted under the Chinese judicial system, but the motivation behind the events have expanded to include demands for investigations into police brutality and a more representative form of democracy within Hong Kong government.

About 2.9 million people voted in Sunday's election. The total population of Hong Kong is about 7.5 million.

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