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Hong Kong votes on revised “Patriots” election

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Hong Kong is holding a revised general election on Sunday for “patriots” only, which critics have labeled undemocratic and in which the government is keen to mobilize votes to demonstrate the legitimacy of the poll. Officials have been working to increase voter turnout https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/exclusive-hong-kong-officials-push-turnout-first-patriots-election-2021-12-18, from Fear of poor performance could be read as a form of protest against a vote without the participation of an opposition party, people familiar with the effort told Reuters.

Strict security precautions were in place throughout the city, and 10,000 police officers were on duty. Police chief Raymond Siu told reporters ahead of the vote that the mass action is intended to ensure that voting at hundreds of polling stations across the city is safe and smooth. In the run-up to the elections, the government said more than 10 people were arrested for allegedly inciting people to vote, including people who had reposted other people’s social media posts. It is illegal in Hong Kong to ask someone not to vote or to cast an invalid vote.

China’s parliament announced far-reaching changes to the Hong Kong electoral system in March https://www.reuters.com/world/china/how-hong-kongs-new-election-law-will-reshape-legislature-2021-12-18. including reducing the number of directly elected seats and setting up a review committee to review all potential candidates, saying that only “patriots” are allowed to run the city. More than a third of the seats will now be selected by a committee made up of Beijing loyalists. Continuing crackdown on Hong Kong under a national security law imposed by China has also imprisoned numerous Democrats https://www.reuters.com/world/china/hong-kongs-jailed-exiled-democrats-lament-sunday-election- 2021- 12-16, while civil society groups have disbanded.

In contrast to previous polls, pro-democracy candidates are largely absent because they have turned down the candidacy, went into exile or were imprisoned. Some foreign activists and foreign governments, including the United States, say the election changes have reduced democratic representation in the city. The Chinese and Hong Kong authorities deny such criticism, saying that the election changes and a national security law that went into effect last year are needed to improve governance in the city and restore stability after the mass protests against the government in 2019 .

Of the 153 candidates who hold 90 seats in the legislature, around a dozen say they are moderate who are unrelated to the Beijing camp or the establishment. Hong Kong and Chinese officials have increasingly called for voting in the run-up to the elections as they oppose new electoral rules and the lack of democratic https://www.reuters.com/world/china/hong-kongs. fear -jailed-exiled-democrats-lament-sunday-election-2021-12-16 candidates will scare off voters, say some analysts. Transport companies also offered free rides on election day.

“The government’s goal is clearly to ensure a high turnout. Otherwise, it could delegitimize this election,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, professor of political science at the Baptist University in Hong Kong. The office of Hong Kong Prime Minister Carrie Lam and the Beijing liaison office in the city did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comments on voter turnout.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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