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Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Hong Kong’s First “Patriots Only” Elections Witness Lowest Turnout Amid Political Changes

In a historic development, Hong Kong’s inaugural “patriots only” district council elections reported a record-low turnout of 27.5%, as disclosed by the government on Monday. This marked a stark contrast to the 71% turnout during the district council elections in 2019, which saw a significant victory for the democracy camp amid large-scale protests.

Key Points:

  1. Record-Low Turnout: Despite a 90-minute extension due to a digital system failure confirming voters’ eligibility, the official final turnout stood at 27.54%, with nearly 1.2 million out of 4.3 million registered electors participating. The previous lowest turnout since the city’s handover to China was 35.82% in 1999.
  2. Background of Changes: The recent district council elections were conducted under new rules announced in May, reducing the number of directly elected seats from 462 to 88. The remaining 382 seats are now controlled by government loyalists, the city leader, and rural landlords. Candidates were required to seek nominations from government-appointed committees, effectively sidelining pro-democracy parties.
  3. Government Response: Hong Kong’s leader, John Lee, expressed gratitude to the “more than 1 million” voters, stating that this election marked the completion of implementing the “principle of patriots ruling Hong Kong.” He emphasized that district councils would no longer serve as platforms for anti-government sentiments and activities promoting Hong Kong independence.
  4. Security Measures: Authorities took swift action to prevent any dissent during the elections, arresting at least six individuals. Police detained three activists from the League of Social Democrats, accusing them of attempting to disrupt district council elections and later referring the case to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
  5. Impact of National Security Law: The sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing has been instrumental in a broader clampdown on dissent and political opposition in Hong Kong. The changes in election rules and the exclusion of pro-democracy candidates highlight the tightening grip on the political landscape.

The significant drop in voter turnout reflects the changes in Hong Kong’s political dynamics and the impact of measures aimed at ensuring “patriots” govern the city. The developments underscore the challenges to democratic processes and freedoms in the region.

For more updates stay tuned to FELA News!

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