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Democrats lose ground in elections

Observers blame lack of party unity

Democrats lose ground in elections
Electoral Affairs Commission officials empty a ballot box (Photo courtesy Hong Kong government reporter, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

September 10, 2012

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The pan-democratic coalition retains only a slim hold on veto power after yesterday's legislative elections. Observers say the results highlight problems in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. The democratic parties won 27 of 70 contested seats in the Legislative Council as an estimated 1.83 million people, about 53 percent of registered voters, cast their ballots in an election energized by recent protests over a contentious national education class. Among the 70 seats, only 40 represent geographical constituencies and are elected directly. The rest are functional constituency seats, occupied mainly by pro-Beijing professional elites. Pro-Beijing parties won 43 seats, including 17  from geographical constituencies, six more than in 2008. Lina Chan Lai-na, secretary general of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, said the result, particularly among the geographical constituencies, would put a strain on democratic legislators. The result shows the invisible hand of the Beijing government that has “comprehensive control of the election,” said Chan. She commented that they are “skillful at vote allocation among their candidates and at mobilizing innocent elderly voters to vote for them.” She said she hoped the pro-democracy camp would review its election strategies and cooperate better among the various political factions. “Otherwise, they will face more painful results four years from now,” she said. Albert Ho, chairman of the Democratic Party – Hong Kong’s largest opposition party – stepped down after the election, citing the party’s poor showing. The Democratic Party won only six seats, down from eight in the last election. Willy Lam Wo-lap, a political commentator, said that despite a small increase in voter turnout this year, the loss of seats in the geographical constituencies could be seen as nothing less than a “major defeat.” He attributed the result to a split among the various democratic parties. “They are working towards opposite ends," he said. "It seems hard to coordinate the radical and moderate democrats. And this is a hidden worry for democratic development in Hong Kong.” Related reports Government backs down on 'brainwashing class'
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