‘Nothing short of a revolution’: Hong Kong elections see pro-democracy candidates win in record turnout

Protesters hold placards as they prepare to demonstrate against the now-suspended extradition bill on June 16, 2019 in Hong Kong.
Protesters hold placards as they prepare to demonstrate against the now-suspended extradition bill on June 16, 2019 in Hong Kong. | Getty Images/Carl Court

Democratic activists in Hong Kong won a major election victory with record turnout, with the results widely viewed as a repudiation of the Communist Chinese government.

Following months of large-scale protests, approximately three million people voted in Sunday’s district council elections, giving democratic candidates about 90 percent of the 452 seats, according to Reuters.

Carrie Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong whose introduction of an extradition bill sparked the months-long protests, said in a statement that the government would respect the election results.

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“There are various analyses and interpretations in the community in relation to the results, and quite a few are of the view that the results reflect people’s dissatisfaction with the current situation and the deep-seated problems in society,” stated Lam, as reported by Reuters.

Willy Lam, a political expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who is not related to the chief executive, called the election results “nothing short of a revolution.”

“This is a landslide,” said Willy Lam, as reported by CBS News. “It's a sound repudiation of the Carrie Lam administration and shows the silent majority are behind the demands of the protesters.”

Since 1997, Hong Kong has been an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China governed by the principle commonly called "one country, two systems.”

The current wave of protests in Hong Kong began in June over concerns about police brutality and a proposed law that would allow extradition of suspected criminals to Communist China.

Demonstrators expressed concern that the Chinese government would use the proposed extradition law to target critics of their system.

Protests have often been intense, with police firing teargas into crowds, with several arrests and two people, a student and a 70-year-old cleaner, reported dead.

For their part, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill last week aimed at supporting the Hong Kong protesters in a rebuke of sorts to Chinese suppression of the demonstrations.

Known as the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, the measure looks to have the U.S. government address issues like civil liberties in Hong Kong and protecting American citizens living in the autonomous region.

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