Only 30% of Hong Kongers turned out to vote on Sunday. This final participation rate is the lowest since the handover of Hong Kong to China by the United Kingdom in 1997.
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They voted with their feet. Hong Kong people largely shunned the ballot box on Sunday for the renewal of their city’s Legislative Council under a new process imposed by Beijing, which drastically reduced the number of seats filled by universal suffrage and reserved the right to be a candidate to “patriots” loyal to China.
At the end of the ballot, only 30% of those registered had voted to designate the 20 members elected by universal suffrage out of the 90 in the Legislative Council (the “LegCo”). The remaining 70 members are chosen by several committees made up of political elites acquired in the Chinese regime. This final turnout is the lowest since the handover of Hong Kong to China by the United Kingdom in 1997. In the previous election, in 2016, the turnout was 58.3%. The “LegCo” then had 70 members, half of whom were nominated directly by the voters.
This year, to be allowed to run for a seat, each of the 153 candidates had to give pledges of political loyalty to China and “patriotism”. As a result, democracy activists have been prevented from running or have renounced when they are not in prison or on the run abroad. Several of them who live in exile had called for a boycott of the ballot box. The turnout, a thermometer for Hong Kongers’ adherence to the new electoral system, was therefore the only real unknown.