Monday, November 25, 2019

Giving the finger to Beijing

Hong Kong has been protesting for six months for, demanding democracy, human rights, and an end to police violence. Today, they went to the polls in district council elections - a low-level of government with virtually no power, similar to community boards in New Zealand. But while the positions themselves were fairly powerless, they could still be used to send a message and give the finger to Beijing. And that's exactly what voters did:

The anti-establishment reverberations from almost six months of street protests swept through polling stations across Hong Kong on Sunday, as voters in record numbers roundly rejected pro-Beijing candidates in favour of pan-democrats.

The tsunami of disaffection among voters was clear across the board, as pan-democrats rode the wave to win big in poor and rich neighbourhoods, in both protest-prone and non protest-afflicted districts and, in downtown areas as well as the suburbs.

Less immediately obvious was whether there was a generational divide in the way the people voted, but ousted pro-establishment district councillors suggested that young, first-time voters had been instrumental in dislodging them from their perch.

By 7am, the pro-democracy camp had gained a majority in at least 12 of the 18 district councils, taking 278 seats.

All councils were previously under pro-establishment control from the 2015 elections.

More recent results are saying the democrats have 333 seats to the establishment's 37, with less than a hundred seats to go. Its a very clear message from voters to their government, and to Beijing. The only question is whether the latter will listen.