(HONG KONG) — Pro-Beijing parties in Hong Kong trounced the opposition as voters in the Chinese territory expressed discontent with pro-democratic parties in local elections that may predict the outcome of more important polls next year. Results from Sunday's poll were released early Monday for individual candidates, but the government did not immediately provide a breakdown by political party.(See more on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.)
The South China Morning Post newspaper says candidates from major parties that support the central government in China won 146 of 412 seats while those from mainstream pro-democracy parties lost ground, garnering only 54 seats.
While district councilors wield little power, analysts say the outcome could foreshadow a tougher struggle for pro-democracy candidates in legislative elections next year, which could make it harder to move toward a fuller democracy. About 1.1 million, or 38 percent of the 2.9 million people registered to vote, cast ballots in Sunday's election, about the same turnout rate as the last district council elections in 2007. They chose among 839 candidates for 336 seats. Another 76 candidates were returned unopposed.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, is a special administrative region of China with its own political system and a high degree of autonomy. Hong Kong's mini-constitution promises eventual democracy and Western-style civil liberties commonly denied in the mainland.(See more on the late Hong Kong democracy activist Szeto Wah.) The current 60-member Legislative Council is half-elected, half chosen by professional and business sectors, many of whom are loyal to Beijing. Next year, the legislature will add 10 more elected seats.
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