A Year Soon after Democracy Protests, Hong Kong Voters Flock to Polls

HONG KONG — Voters right here went to the polls on Sunday, picking hundreds of neighborhood representatives in the very first election given that concern about China’s influence more than the electoral approach set off immense sit-in protests last year.

Turnout for the election of 363 district councilors, who serve four-year terms, was larger than in earlier contests in 2011 and 2007, with about 47 percent of eligible voters casting ballots, the government reported. An added 68 seats had been uncontested.

The final results had been mixed, as many participants in last year’s pro-democracy “Umbrella Movement” won seats in some areas, and supporters of closer ties with the central government in Beijing gained ground in others.

District-level lawmakers, who on typical serve constituencies of fewer than 20,000 folks, are much more focused on day-to-day livelihood troubles, like pushing for better bus service and securing funds for improvements and repairs to public facilities such as roads, parks and street indicators.

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But the tension more than last year’s protests, known as Occupy Central, which shut down some significant thoroughfares in Hong Kong for far more than two months, was evident in the election on Sunday as properly. In one particular densely populated area in Hong Kong’s New Territories characterized by towering apartment blocks, pro-Beijing and pro-democracy, or pan-democratic, constituencies have been divided by one particular street.

On 1 side, dominated by private apartment blocks constructed more than the Po Lam subway station, one particular voter, who would give only his final name, Law, stated he had cast his ballot for a pan-democratic candidate because he “hates the Communist Party.” Across the street, the leading two vote-getters in a district centered on a publicly funded housing project represented pro-Beijing parties. There, the incumbent, Alfred Au Ning-fat, was re-elected.

Subsequent year, voters will elect folks to Hong Kong’s 70-member Legislative Council, the city’s prime lawmaking physique. In June, the legislature rejected a voting program backed by the Beijing government that would have permitted the city’s more than 3 million eligible voters to directly elect Hong Kong’s leading official, the chief executive. That strategy, which permitted only candidates screened by a committee dominated by pro-Beijing loyalists to seem on the ballot, set off the Occupy Central movement final year.

In 2017, Hong Kong will hold elections for the chief executive. That contest will be decided by a 1,200-member unelected committee dominated by pro-Beijing groups like tycoons, farmers and fishermen, pro-Communist labor organizations and sector groups.

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