HK Pro-Democracy Parties to Review Strategy After Election Defeats

Posted November 7th, 2011 at 5:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Hong Kong pro-democracy politicians say they will review their future election strategies after their pro-Beijing rivals scored big wins in Sunday's municipal elections in the Chinese special administrative region.

Radio Television Hong Kong said Monday pro-Beijing and pro-establishment candidates won 43 percent of the 412 district council seats open for election, increasing their share of seats from the last vote in 2003. The broadcaster said pro-democracy candidates won just 20 percent of the district council seats, with non-partisan independents taking the rest. Seventy-six seats were elected unopposed.

Hong Kong's main pro-democracy groups, the Democratic Party and the Civic Party, won a combined 54 seats, four fewer than the last election. Five prominent party members, who serve in powerful roles as legislative councilors, lost their district council races. Party leaders said Monday they will rethink their campaign strategies to try to avoid similar setbacks in next year's Legislative Council elections.

In some constituencies, radical pro-democracy parties ran against moderate democracy activists. Some observers said the split in the pro-democracy vote helped pro-establishment candidates win. Civic Party leader Alan Leong also accused pro-government candidates of engaging in a “smear” campaign by accusing his group of supporting efforts by foreign domestic workers to gain permanent residency in the territory.

Some Civic Party members who serve as lawyers have helped domestic workers challenge laws that prevent them from becoming Hong Kong citizens. Most of the city's domestic workers are Filipinos and Indonesians. Many Hong Kong residents fear that granting them permanent residency will strain their welfare and medical systems.

A record 1.2 million people turned out to vote for the district council election, equivalent to 41 percent of the electorate.

Hong Kong district councilors advise the government on neighborhood issues such as traffic and sanitation, but otherwise have little power.

District councilors may see their influence grow next year, under a democratic reform plan.

Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997 under a mini-constitution that enables the city maintain its own economic, legal and political systems for 50 years. As part of hand-over of sovereignty, China agreed to allow Hong Kong to move toward full democratic elections for the territory's leader and legislature over a period of years.