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Hong Kong chief praises election turnout as voter numbers hit report low

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HONG KONG — Hong Kong chief John Lee on Tuesday praised the 27.5% voter turnout within the metropolis’s weekend election, a report low because the territory returned to Chinese language rule in 1997.

Sunday’s district council election was the primary held beneath new guidelines launched beneath Beijing’s path that successfully shut out all pro-democracy candidates.

“The turnout of 1.2 million voters has indicated that they supported the election, they supported the rules,” Lee stated at a information convention.

“It is crucial that we focus our consideration on the end result of the election, and the end result will imply a constructive district council, reasonably than what was a damaging one,” he stated.

Sunday’s turnout was considerably lower than the report 71.2% of Hong Kong’s 4.3 million registered voters who participated within the final election, held on the peak of anti-government protests in 2019, which the pro-democracy camp gained by a landslide.

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Lee stated there was resistance to Sunday’s election from potential candidates who had been rejected beneath the brand new guidelines for being not certified or missing the rules of “patriots” administering Hong Kong.

“There are nonetheless some individuals who by some means are nonetheless immersed within the improper concept of attempting to make the district council a political platform for their very own political means, attaining their very own features reasonably than the district’s achieve,” he stated.

The district councils, which primarily deal with municipal issues reminiscent of organizing building tasks and public services, had been Hong Kong’s final main political our bodies largely chosen by the general public.

However beneath the brand new electoral guidelines launched beneath a Beijing order that solely “patriots” ought to administer town, candidates should safe endorsements from a minimum of 9 members of government-appointed committees which can be largely filled with Beijing loyalists, making it just about not possible for any pro-democracy candidates to run.

An modification handed in July additionally slashed the proportion of straight elected seats from about 90% to about 20%.

“The de facto boycott signifies low public acceptance of the brand new electoral association and its democratic representativeness,” Dominic Chiu, senior analyst at analysis agency Eurasia Group, wrote in a notice.

Chiu stated the low turnout represents a silent protest in opposition to the shrinking of civil liberties within the metropolis following Beijing’s imposition of a tricky nationwide safety legislation that makes it tough to specific opposition.

“In opposition to this backdrop, the general public took the elections as a uncommon alternative to make their opposition to the brand new regular recognized — by not turning as much as vote,” he stated.

Because the introduction of the legislation, many distinguished pro-democracy activists have been arrested or have fled the territory.

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