Protesters hold placards baring the words “Release People”, as they gather near the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, Monday, Nov. 25, 2019. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition won a stunning landslide victory in weekend local elections in a clear rebuke to city leader Carrie Lam over her handling of violent protests that have divided the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Protesters hold placards baring the words “Release People”, as they gather near the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, Monday, Nov. 25, 2019. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition won a stunning landslide victory in weekend local elections in a clear rebuke to city leader Carrie Lam over her handling of violent protests that have divided the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Pro-democracy camp wins Hong Kong elections in landslide

A record 71% of Hong Kong’s 4.1 million registered voters cast ballots in the city’s only fully democratic elections

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition won a stunning landslide victory in weekend local elections in a clear rebuke to city leader Carrie Lam over her handling of violent protests that have divided the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Wu Chi-wai, leader of the city’s biggest pro-democracy party, said Monday that the bloc swept nearly 90% of 452 district council seats, which will help it take unprecedented control of 17 out of 18 district councils. The results were based on official tallies announced by election officials.

The result of Sunday’s elections could force the central government in Beijing to rethink how to handle the unrest, which is now in its sixth month. The district councils have little power, but the vote became a referendum on public support for the protests.

“It’s nothing short of a revolution,” said Willy Lam, a political expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “It’s a sound repudiation of the Carrie Lam administration and shows the silent majority are behind the demands of the protesters.”

The pro-democracy camp hailed its astounding gains as a victory for the people and said Carrie Lam and Beijing must now seriously heed protesters’ demands, which include free elections for the city’s leader and legislature as well as an investigation into alleged police brutality.

“We are only vehicles used to reflect the people’s concerns,” said Wu.

Beijing, which blames foreign powers for fomenting the unrest in Hong Kong, has showed no signs that it may soften its stance on the former British colony, which was returned to China in 1997.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters during a visit to Tokyo on Monday that Hong Kong will always be part of China, no matter the poll outcome.

“Any attempts to destroy Hong Kong or harm Hong Kong’s stability and development cannot possibly succeed,” he said.

But the election outcome will add new pressure on Carrie Lam. Some pro-establishment candidates have already pointed fingers at her for their loss, while the pro-democracy camp said she should quit.

Lam pledged in a statement Monday to reflect on the outcome that indicated “people’s dissatisfaction with the current situation and the deep-seated problems in society.”

“I would say directly to Carrie Lam, do not squander this opportunity. Don’t waste this chance … the window has been opened for you,” said British politician David Alton, who is among the independent election monitors.

A record 71% of Hong Kong’s 4.1 million registered voters cast ballots in the city’s only fully democratic elections, well exceeding the 47% turnout in the same poll four years ago.

The largest pro-establishment political party suffered the biggest setback, with only 21 of its 182 candidates winning. Its chairwoman, Starry Lee, said the government must review its response to the crisis and do more to heal the divisions in society.

Many pro-Beijing political heavyweights were trounced, including controversial lawmaker Junius Ho, who is reviled by protesters for supporting a bloody mob attack on demonstrators in July. Ho was stabbed with a knife during campaigning this month.

The winners included many youth activists and a candidate who replaced activist Joshua Wong, the only person barred from running in the election. Protest rally organizer Jimmy Sham, who was beaten by hammer-wielding assailants last month, also triumphed, as did a pro-democracy lawmaker who had part of his ear bitten off by an assailant.

READ MORE: Police surround last holdouts at Hong Kong university

Celebrations broke out outside polling stations overnight when results were announced. At lunchtime Monday, dozens of supporters held a victory rally in a business district. A woman popped a champagne bottle and poured drinks for everyone.

“This is historic. As our city plummets from being semi-autonomous to semi-authoritarian, we react by showing what’s democracy in action,” Wong tweeted.

More than 5,000 people have been arrested in the unrest that has contributed to Hong Kong’s first recession in a decade.

Supporters from both sides of the divide hope the election will pave a peaceful way out after months of pitched battles between protesters and police, capped by a university siege this month. An estimated 30 protesters, fearing arrest, are still hiding inside the Polytechnic University.

Riot police blocked hundreds of activists from advancing into the campus Monday evening. They want an end to the police siege but police said they will send a team of negotiators into the campus soon to find and coax the holdouts to surrender.

“With the mandate from the Hong Kong people, protesters expect concessions from Beijing, but those concessions won’t be coming. Confrontations may intensify,” warned political analyst Lam.

The victory will see the pro-democracy camp secure 117 seats in the 1,200-member pro-Beijing panel that elects the city’s leader. It will bolster their influence, as the bloc usually has over 300 supporters on the panel but still falls short of the majority.

The turmoil started in June over a now-abandoned extradition bill that many viewed as a sign of creeping Chinese control over Hong Kong, but protesters have since expanded their demands.

Eileen Ng And Ken Moritsugu, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

This photo of the small wildfire burning above Naramata was taken at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021 (Monique Tamminga Western News)
BC Wildfire on scene of small wildfire above Naramata

Black smoke can be seen rising from the mountain

Keremeos’ heritage Grist Mill and Gardens. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
Keremeos Grist Mill looking forward to restrictions easing with exclusive concert planned

Juno Award-winning folk artist Valdy is set to take the stage

Letter writer says COVID has created lots of newbie cyclists who don't know rules of cycling. (File photo)
LETTER: Newbie cyclists in Penticton need lessons on rules of the road

Penticton cycling group just received city funding, should give back by offering how-to lessons

No dental coverage for low income Canadians. (File photo)
OPINION: Penticton MP’s proposal for universal dental coverage rejected

One in 3 Canadians have no dental coverage, with COVID making it even worse

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

Students in the Grade 10 entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School have completed a cookbook with international recipes. (Contributed)
Summerland students create virtual international cookbook

Entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School uses virtual cookbook as fundraiser

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

More flames
Lake Country home destroyed in large blaze, 11 dogs rescued

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

A boat sharing service is extending to Summerland. The company, Penticton Boat Club and Rentals, is also taking over the boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort. (Photo by Chris Stenberg)
Boat sharing service extended from Penticton to Summerland

Company will also operate boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort

201 First Street West 1980s. Prior revitalization. (Photo from Revelstoke Museum and Archives)
Man who redesigned downtown Revelstoke honoured with lifetime achievement award

Robert Inwood has worked on historical projects across the province

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

Most Read