Slim Hong Kong Legislative Win for Beijing Backers

Posted September 10th, 2012 at 4:35 am (UTC-5)
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Hong Kong's pro-Beijing government has emerged as the winner in a legislative council election, but their pro-democracy rivals were able to hold on to their veto power over future policies, including domestic reforms.

Analysts had expected a stronger showing for the pro-democracy camp after it led a series of mass protests against the government of Leung Chun-ying.

The protests drew on public anger toward Leung's handling of several issues, especially a government proposal to require schools to teach Chinese patriotism classes. Leung scrapped the plan Saturday, a day before the election.

Many people feared the school proposal was a ploy by Beijing authorities to indoctrinate the city's youth into unquestioning support of China's Communist Party.

Fifty-three per cent of registered voters cast ballots, up from 45 percent in the last election, in 2008.

Hong Kong residents vote directly on 40 legislative seats. This is five seats more than they had been allowed in the past. The five new seats are from a territory-wide constituency. A small number of people from community and professional groups voted for the remaining 30 seats. Most candidates in this group tend to be pro-government, pro-Beijing.

Beijing has promised to allow Hong Kong to become a full democracy, allowing residents to choose their own leader by 2017 and full legislature by 2020.

In 1997, Britain handed Hong Kong back to Beijing as a semi-autonomous territory with broad rights and freedoms.