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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

Jennifer Rice BC NDP North Coast Incumbent was re-elected for a third according to the preliminary results on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Jennifer Rice is North Coast MLA for third term

Preliminary election results show NDP Majority government

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read