The Hong Kong pro-democracy movement fueled record voter turnout and a crushing defeat for pro-China parties in Sunday’s District Council election, leaving the establishment with only 60 of the nearly 500 seats on the council.
Voters took to the streets to celebrate the victories – and the losses of public officials who had become the villains of the pro-democracy movement like Junius Ho, a District Council member who gained notoriety by shaking hands and chatting with a mob of communists while they violently assaulted unarmed protesters in July. Champagne overflowed on the streets Monday afternoon in celebration.
Many of those elected to District Council seats are members of the pro-democracy movement with key roles in organizing protests. Among them were Jimmy Sham, who has suffered two violent assaults since the protest movement began in June; Andrew Chiu, a District Council member who lost his ear this month after a communist bit it off; and Kelvin Lam, the stand-in candidate for Joshua Wong, the head of the Demosisto pro-freedom movement.
Wong is the only prospective candidate the Hong Kong government banned from seeking a seat on the District Council, claiming him to be a dangerous “separatist.”
According to the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP), a whopping 2.94 million voters – 71.2 percent of the voting population – showed up to the polls on Sunday, a 25 percent increase from the last election in 2015. Hong Kong’s population is around 7 million, making the number prodigious even taking into account the non-voting population. Some reports suggested polling stations were overwhelmed by the turnout and some had to wait as long as 90 minutes to cast their ballots.
Pro-democracy, anti-China candidates won 347 of the District Council’s 452 seats, leaving the pro-China camp with only 60. Another 45 seats went to “independent” candidates, most with sympathies for the official pro-democracy parties. The largest party within the pro-China camp, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), won 21 seats, losing 98 seats. The vote leaves only one of the 18 District Councils in control of the pro-communists.