Pro-China camp wins big in HK district polls
HONG KONG's pro-establishment camp, which supports China's sovereignty over the city, was the biggest winner in Sunday's district council elections, while some young faces from the democratic camp also got elected, including eight who participated in last year's Occupy Centre demonstrations.
The flagship pro-Beijing party, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), clinched the most seats - 119 out of 431 up for grabs - and 51 per cent of the votes cast, reported the pro-China Tai Kung Pao yesterday.
Although DAB's seats in Hong Kong's 18 district councils are reduced by 17, chairman Starry Lee told media that she was satisfied, as several news faces in her party fought and won in a contest seen to be affected by last year's Occupy protest.
According to the website of Hong Kong's Oriental Daily, the entire pro-establishment camp would grab more than 300 seats in total, while the pro-democratic camp would take 102, a slight increase from the results of the last elections in 2011.
The pro-democracy movement was seen as having received a boost, as eight of the winners are so-called "umbrella soldiers" who were actively involved in the 79-day Occupy movement that paralysed downtown Hong Kong last year, demanding for universal election for the city's top leader in 2017.
"The 'umbrella soldiers' are a new power, a challenge to the government and the central authorities in Beijing," Reuters quoted James Sung, a political analyst at the City University of Hong Kong, as saying.
"My greatest wish at this moment is to serve the community well," said "umbrella soldier" Wong Chi Ken, 38, who ran and won under the banner of a non-profit organisation.
Hong Kong's district councillors wield little power, acting mainly as grassroots advisors to the government in the mapping of policies.
But Sunday's poll may provide insight into how elections for Hong Kong's powerful Legislative Council next year and the poll for the top Chief Executive position in 2017 could pan out.
"The results show that the 'umbrella soldiers' reflect the intention or wishes of the youngsters," political commentator Johnny Lau told Reuters.
The biggest surprises were the unseating of political veterans, including Democratic Party lawmaker and heavyweight Albert Ho, left-leaning pan-democratic candidate Frederick Fung, and DAB's Chung Shu Kun.
Ma Ngok, a political anlayst from Hong Kong's Chinese University, told the BBC's Chinese network that the results of the elections were mixed as both young and elderly Hong Kongers had mobilised their age groups to vote in the aftermath of the Occupy saga.
"Many young people worry that Hong Kong's freedom would be slowly undercut by Beijing, while the elderly think over-democratisation will hurt its future," said Mr Ma.
The analyst also observed that the most radical groups, such as the Civic Passion which advocates independence for Hong Kong, were totally routed in the poll.
"Voters want new faces, but only those who are close to the mainstream. The swing votes of 20 to 30 per cent of the electorate decided the elections' outcome," said Mr Ma.