Hong Kong district elections have resulted in an almost sweeping victory for pro-democracy candidates, with 17 out of 18 districts choosing representatives under the pro-democracy banner. Pro-democracy councillors have taken up to 347 out of 452 seats.
Who went to vote and why?
The ongoing unrest for almost half a year has strongly consolidated the position of many Hong Kongers. There are diverse views that pushed them to vote: hoping for the return of peace and stability to Hong Kong due to its adverse effects to the country’s economy, or to express their disagreement with how the government has been handling the situation, or maybe even both. Regardless, the solidified stance towards the government has been rather clear.
This consolidated view is especially strong within the young population. Many pro-establishment district councillors have stated that it is due to the young, first-time voters that these councillors were ousted from their district seats.
What is the Chief Executive’s reaction?
While addressing the press in regards to the result of the election, Carrie Lam seems to have taken a neutral and functional stance. She firstly stated that the purpose of the election is merely functional; to elect representatives from each of the 18 districts in Hong Kong. She also added that it is not the obligation or the right of the Chief Executive and the government to express their opinions, as this election is part of the procedure under the rule of law.
However, she also admitted that there are a large number of people coming out to vote for their district council representatives in order to show public dissatisfaction due to current issues, such as “deficiencies in governance” among others. In response, she will “reflect on these views” and “improve governance” in the future of the government’s work.
What about China?
The state-run media, China Daily, downplayed the result by calling into question the nature of the election in one of their recent publications. The article, focusing on the reaction of the pro-establishment officials to the sweeping victory, reached out to those who are involved in the protests to cease their law-breaking activities and “regain their senses”. In addition, one candidate featured in the article pointed out that it is due to the “highly unusual social environment” that the election was held in that the pro-democracy officials had won out. Like the Chief Executive, however, they have also pointed out that the election serves as a means for Hong Kongers to voice their demands.