Hong Kong’s democrats scored a landslide majority in district council elections, which saw a record turnout after six months of anti-government protests, increasing pressure on the Chinese-ruled city’s leader on Monday to listen to calls for democracy.
Sunday’s elections marked a rare weekend lull in the sometimes violent unrest, with democratic candidates securing nearly 90% of the 452 district council seats, broadcaster RTHK reported, despite a strongly resourced and mobilized pro-establishment opposition.
Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing chief executive, Carrie Lam, said in a statement the government respected the results and wished “the peaceful, safe and orderly situation to continue.”
“There are various analyses and interpretations in the community in relation to the results, and quite a few are of the view that the results reflect people’s dissatisfaction with the current situation and the deep-seated problems in society,” she said.
The government would “listen to the opinions of members of the public humbly and seriously reflect,” Lam said.
Results showed upset wins for democrats against heavyweight pro-Beijing opponents when they started trickling in after midnight on Sunday, causing some voting centers to erupt in loud cheers and chants of “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution Now” — a slogan used by many protesters over the past six months.
Pictures posted online showed people celebrating outside polling stations, popping bottles of champagne.
Regina Ip, a member of the Hong Kong government’s leading advisory body and a former security chief, was loudly heckled on the streets of Central by lunchtime protesters.
“This is the power of democracy. This is a democratic tsunami,” said Tommy Cheung, a former student protest leader who won a seat in the Yuen Long district close to China’s border.