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Pro-Beijing candidates dominate Hong Kong polls as turnout plummets

Pro-Beijing candidates dominate Hong Kong polls as turnout plummets
Turnout plunges to record low in 1st vote held since China revamped electoral system to keep out opposition figures

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ISTANBUL (AA) - As voter turnout slumped to a record low, pro-Beijing candidates swept to victory in Hong Kong’s first Legislative Council (LegCo) elections since a radical overhaul this March limited contenders to “patriots only” – a term referring to politicians amenable to China.

Around 1.3 million voters cast their ballots in Sunday’s polls, bringing the turnout to 30.2%, 5.6 percentage points less than the previous historic low seen in 1995 under British colonial rule, according to a report by the news website Hong Kong Free Press.

Counting was completed by 11 a.m. (0300GMT) on Monday, and results show that pro-Beijing candidates dominate the new 90-member legislature, with just one person not from the pro-establishment bloc, the report said.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam was unfazed by the low turnout, asserting that the 1.3 million ballots cast were “a show of support for the improved electoral system.”

She said the “system would from now on be run by patriots only after an election race which was fair, efficient, and humane.”

“If the high voting rate is based on political deterioration, or based on some candidates who are fighting for authority to endanger national security, this is not a high voting rate we agree with,” added Lam, who will head to Beijing on a 3-day “duty visit” on Monday night.

In the past, she said, “anti-China forces” tried to seize power in Hong Kong’s political system, “posing risks to national security.”

Lam said she was confident that the new legislature will herald a new era of “good administration and governance” in Hong Kong.

“When the 7th Legislative Council commences, we will cooperate fully with them to boost the economy … and improve livelihoods. We hope to have reasonable, practical interaction on how to fix deep-rooted problems in Hong Kong,” she said.

China has stepped up its influence in the semi-autonomous region after pro-democracy protests in 2014 and 2019, imposing a sweeping national security law in July 2020 that stamped out dissent before revamping the electoral system this year.

source: News Feed
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