Three Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were arrested just before polling stations opened in the “patriot-only” municipal elections.
They were members of the League of Social Democrats and were arrested in the central business district. This was stated by the activist group itself. She planned to protest the “birdcage election,” which she said lacked any democratic dimension due to the authorities’ vetting requirements, which effectively made it impossible for all Democrats to run.
The police, on the other hand, stated that the persons in question are suspected of attempting to incite actions that disrupt the district council elections.
The democratic opposition had to defend a very strong mandate in the elections. The last parliamentary elections were held in 2019, when pro-democracy protests were at their peak in the former British colony, which has been under the administration of the People’s Republic of China since 1997.
Seznam Správ interview with the winning pro-democracy candidates from 2019:
The elections took place on a wave of demonstrations, in which more than a million people participated. The initial trigger was a bill that would allow Hong Kong residents to be extradited to courts in the People’s Republic of China. It took over the administration of the former British colony in 1997 and is gradually consolidating its influence
“It’s a bit like a miracle for Hong Kong, but we hope it will have some effect.” That’s how the pro-democracy candidate Leticia Wong Man-huen described Sunday’s victory in Hong Kong’s local elections to Seznam. Her camp overwhelmingly defeated pro-Beijing politicians. While pro-democracy candidates won 347 seats in the vote, pro-Beijing candidates won only 60.
However, Democratic candidates were prevented from running in most cases. All candidates must pass national security clearance and secure nominations from pro-government committees after the July reform. At least three pro-democracy groups, including moderates, and even some pro-Beijing figures did not receive enough nominations.
Even the total number of directly elected seats in district councils (others are indirectly elected by pro-Chinese bodies) has significantly decreased compared to four years ago – by 80%.
“These measures are the last piece of the puzzle for us to realize the principles of the patriots who rule Hong Kong,” Hong Kong leader John Lee said, adding that the previous vote in 2019 had been misused to sabotage governance and threaten national security.
At the same time, the pro-Chinese government is afraid of low voter turnout. Many people prefer to avoid voting due to the influence of the election, say observers. On the contrary, the overwhelming victory of the opposition democratic camp in 2019 was supported by a record turnout of 71% of voters.