Young protest movement activists win seats in Hong Kong elections

Fresh faces from the youth protest movement advocating more autonomy from Beijing were elected to Hong Kong's legislature on Monday.

Recently formed political party Demosisto's candidate and former Occupy movement student activist Nathan Law, 23, was elected to the Hong Kong Island constituency with almost 51,000 votes. 

Nineteen of the seats directly elected by the public went to the pro-democracy block of candidates, while 16 went to pro-Beijing and pro-establishment candidates.

A record 2.2 million people, or 58 per cent of registered voters, cast their ballots until 2:30 am on Monday morning (1830 GMT Sunday), according to data provided by the government information service.

It has been a year marked with concern that China is increasingly becoming heavy-handed in the former British territory, with incidents such as the disappearance and reappearance of local booksellers and their public confessions on Chinese television.

Candidates for the election were also disqualified for advocating independence from China. 

It has given rise to a localist movement calling for varying degrees of autonomy and independence from the mainland, as locals are concerned the authoritarian style of government and corruption more frequent across the border would become a way of life in Hong Kong.

"The people of Hong Kong who came out to vote have stated clearly through the ballot box that this is not what we can swallow," said lawmaker Alan Leong, who once this crop of legislators is confirmed will step down from his position in the legislature. 

He called for Beijing to take heed of Hong Kong's historic vote, and allow the city to determine its own future beyond 2047 when the treaty with Britain expires.

"One way would lead to Hong Kong gaining more and more calls for independence, the other would bring Hong Kong back on the right track with Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong people under one country two systems," Leong said. "It will be a more congenial society."

Localist candidate Eddie Chu garnered over 84,000 votes in the New Territories West constituency, making him the most popular candidate of the entire election. 

With 30 seats in the bag, the pro-democracy block of candidates retains its veto power in the council. The pro-Beijing contingent will continue to dominate the legislature, as they hold on to their seats in the functional constituency.

Hong Kong's legislature operates within a partially democratic system. The public directly elects only half of the 70 lawmakers, known as the geographic constituency.

The other half is selected by members of professional associations, district councillors and trade groups, known as the functional constituency.

The council has the power to enact, amend and repeal laws; endorse the appointment and removal of judges; and impeach the city's top official, the chief executive.

Last update: Mon, 05/09/2016 - 14:36


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