Queuing in front of polling stations: Hong Kong people vote in troubled times

              Sunday, November 24, 2019

              Are the Hong Kongers still behind the protest movement? This question is now clarified: The local elections are considered an indicator. Although these have symbolic significance above all else – the voter turnout is nevertheless much higher than usual.
              Local elections in Hong Kong began with an unusually high level of participation – a sign of the politically heated mood in the Chinese Special Administrative Region. By 1.30 pm (local time), more than 1.5 million Hong Kong citizens have voted. Turnout was already around 37% nine hours before polling closes – more than twice as high as in the last district elections in 2015 at the same time. Early in the morning long queues formed in front of polling stations. With more than five months of ongoing protests from opponents of the government, the elections are seen as an important indicator of popular sentiment. Significant gains for the camp of the Democratic candidates could signal that the Hong Kong continue to stand behind the protest movement despite the increasing violence. So far, the faithful and devoted government leadership in Beijing commands about three quarters of district council posts. In the election, more than 4.1 million Hong Kong voters can choose 452 district council posts in 18 districts. More than 1000 candidates have started. The counting starts immediately after the closure of the polling stations at 22.30 (15.30 CET). First results are expected during the night of Monday (local time). "The election is the last chance to express our opinion, most of the protests were banned by the government," a 26-year-old banker said after casting his vote. "In the last election, there were only pro-Beijing candidates in our district, and this time there was a Democratic candidate in it as well, something has changed." Beijing's favorite always wins. Jason, a 30-year-old freelancer, waited in line Polling station at Hong Kong's Queen's College more than an hour before he could vote: "I would have waited even longer, we want democracy and an end to police violence." As the "South China Morning Post" reported, conspicuously many young voters poured into the polls in the morning. According to the Hong Kong newspaper, participation was three times higher than at the same time in the previous district election in 2015 after one hour. The elections are of particular symbolic significance as the county councils of the city do not really have political power. You can not pass laws or make meaningful decisions yourself. As committees, they advise the government and make suggestions on how to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods. The dominant camp in the election receives seats in the 1200-member election committee, which elects the Hong Kong head of government every five years. However, the panel ensures that in the end Beijing's favored candidate always wins. Not all seats are electedAlso Hong Kong Parliament, the Legislative Council, is not elected completely free. Only 40 of the seats are elected by universal suffrage. The remaining 30 seats are determined by interest groups, the majority of which are pro-Beijing camps. In Hong Kong, more and more violent clashes between police and radical protesters have taken place over the past two weeks. On the three days before the election, however, it remained calm in the metropolis. They hope that the stability of the last few days are not only related to the elections, said Prime Minister Carrie Lam in the delivery of her vote. "I hope that nobody wants more havoc in Hong Kong and we can leave these difficult times behind with a new start." The protest movement has been calling for Lam's resignation for months. Their displeasure is directed against the government, the police's brutal actions and the growing influence of the Communist leadership in Beijing. Since its return to China in 1997, the former British crown colony becomes autonomous under the principle of "one country, two systems" under Chinese sovereignty governed. The seven million Hong Kong people – unlike the people of the People's Republic – enjoy many rights, such as freedom of assembly and expression, which they now fear.

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