Democrats perform well despite ‘Olympics factor’ in Hong Kong elections

September 8th, 2008 - 12:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Hong Kong, Sep 8 (DPA) Pro-democracy candidates won more than a third of the seats in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council election, defying predictions they would be swept aside by China-friendly parties, results showed Monday.The opposition candidates won 23 seats, two fewer than they did in the previous 2004 elections, maintaining their power to stop moves on constitutional change in the 60-seat legislature.

The pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance remained the biggest party with 37 seats after Sunday’s election, but key votes in the legislature require a two-thirds majority.

Pro-democracy candidates performed surprisingly well in the election after analysts predicted an “Olympics factor” would lead to a major shift toward China-friendly parties.

Patriotism toward China has risen markedly in the 11 years since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule, and China’s Olympic gold medallists visited the territory days before the election.

The pro-democracy movement, meanwhile, has splintered to the extent that it is now represented by a range of different parties, some of them less radical and closer to pro-China parties than others.

Turnout for Sunday’s election was 10 percent lower than in 2004 at 45 percent of the former British colony’s 3.3 million registered voters.

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