Blow for HK democrats in polls

DNA (Delhi) - - World -

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s democ­racy camp failed to claw back all their lost seats Mon­day in con­tro­ver­sial by­elec­tions as the city’s proBei­jing es­tab­lish­ment fur­ther ce­ments its grip.

The re­sult is the lat­est blow to the demo­cratic move­ment as China ups pres­sure on the semi-au­ton­o­mous city to fall into line af­ter un­prece­dented chal­lenges in­clud­ing mass ral­lies call­ing for re­form and the emer­gence of an in­de­pen­dence move­ment.

Sun­day’s vote was trig­gered af­ter Bei­jing forced the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of six rebel law­mak­ers who had swept to vic­tory in city­wide elec­tions in 2016. Four of the six va­cant seats were con­tested in the tense by-elec­tions which saw China loy­al­ists hurl in­sults at young democ­racy ac­tivists near a polling sta­tion.

Af­ter the count ended Mon­day morn­ing the democ­racy camp had only man­aged to take back two of the four seats.

An­a­lysts said the dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mance re­flected the in­abil­ity of the democrats to present an ef­fec­tive united plat­form to res­i­dents as well as ap­a­thy among vot­ers -- turnout was less than 50 per­cent, lower than pre­vi­ous re­cent elec­tions.

“This is a ter­ri­bly de­press­ing day for the demo­cratic de­vel­op­ment of Hong Kong,” po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Willy Lam said.

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