Hong Kong, China:
Voter turnout in Hong Kong’s first “patriots-only” district council election was 27.5 percent, the government said on Monday, a record low figure for a race that excluded all opposition candidates.
The city’s last district council elections took place in 2019 at the height of large, sometimes violent democracy protests and recorded a historically high voter turnout of 71 percent, giving the democracy camp a landslide victory.
But a crackdown on dissent – backed by a sweeping national security law enacted by Beijing – also included a move by authorities to bar anyone deemed politically disloyal in the wake of the protests from public office.
Election Day on Sunday lasted until midnight after a rare 90-minute extension was granted after the digital system confirming voter eligibility failed.
Despite the extension, the government’s official website was updated on Monday morning to show a final voter turnout of 27.54 percent, with just under 1.2 million of the 4.3 million registered voters taking part in the election.
Previously, the lowest voter turnout since the city was handed over to China in 1999 was 35.82 percent.
City leader John Lee had thanked the “more than 1 million” voters for coming at around 1:45 a.m. on Monday (Sunday, 5:45 p.m. GMT).
After Sunday’s vote, he said this year’s election was “the final piece of the puzzle in implementing the principle of patriots governing Hong Kong.”
“From now on, district councils would no longer be what they were in the past – a platform to destroy and reject government administration, promote Hong Kong’s independence and endanger national security,” Lee said after casting his vote on Sunday.
Under new rules announced in May, the number of seats open to direct election was reduced from 462 to 88, while the other 382 seats are controlled by the city leader, government loyalists and landowners.
Candidates also had to seek nominations from three government-appointed committees, effectively barring all pro-democracy parties.
Over 70 percent of the candidates nominated for the election were members of the nominating committees.
On Sunday, police again moved quickly against any signs of dissent and arrested at least six people.
Three were activists from the League of Social Democrats – one of the last remaining opposition groups in the city – who had planned a protest.
Police initially charged the trio with “attempting to incite others to disrupt the district council elections” and later referred them to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on suspicion of “inciting others not to vote”.
The league called the arrest “extremely ironic and ridiculous.”
On Friday, national security police arrested a 77-year-old man for “attempting sedition.”
A 38-year-old man was charged Tuesday for reposting a video by a foreign commentator that allegedly called on people to boycott the election.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Source : www.ndtv.com