Hong Kong votes in large numbers hoping for change

Updated: Nov 25, 2019, 13:02 IST | Agencies | Hong Kong

City's pro-democracy movement believes the elections will add pressure on the Beijing-backed government to heed their demands after months of violent protest

People queue up to cast their votes in front of a Lennon Wall adorned with tattered posters in support of the ongoing protests, during the district council elections in Tai Koo in Hong Kong on Sunday. Pic/AFP
People queue up to cast their votes in front of a Lennon Wall adorned with tattered posters in support of the ongoing protests, during the district council elections in Tai Koo in Hong Kong on Sunday. Pic/AFP

Hong Kong: Hong Kong's voters turned out in record numbers on Sunday for local council elections that the city's pro-democracy movement hopes will add pressure on the Beijing-backed government to heed their demands after months of violent protest.

Lengthy queues snaked out of polling stations across the territory in the election for 18 district councils, where high turnout is expected to benefit democratic forces. The Electoral Affairs Commission said a record 47.26 per cent of the 4.13 million citizens registered to vote had cast their ballots by late Sunday afternoon. It was already the highest turnout in Hong Kong's history of district council elections post handover, with several hours of voting still to go.

The selection of 452 councillors traditionally generates little excitement, but has taken on new significance following months of political unrest. Hong Kong has been buffeted by months of mass rallies and violent clashes pitting police against protesters who are agitating for direct popular elections of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's government, as well as a probe into alleged police brutality.

47.26%
Voting percentage by Sunday afternoon

4.13million
No. of citizens who have registered to vote

'Vote to end social chaos'

Chinese state media urged voters to give support to pro-establishment forces to "end social chaos", but the big turnout is widely expected to benefit democratic forces. In a tweet, the nationalistic Global Times asked voters, "What would you choose? A peaceful and prosperous city or a violent uncivilised one?" "The choice is yours," the tabloid posted. An editorial in the Beijing News said it was an opportunity for voters to "end the social chaos and violence in Hong Kong."

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