Dibbo Chowdhury Tripura
Last month, the Hong Kong election saw a landslide win of the pan-democratic wing which is seen as a pivotal sign of democratic development in that region. It is being considered as one of the most important incidents in world politics. Although China tried to play false media propaganda, it did not work very well.
Hong Kong voters joined enthusiastically in huge numbers to vote in the local elections on November 24. This electoral process was both a counterpoint to and a continuation of months of protests that had become the centre of attention in the region. Hong Kong was a mess amidst the conflicts between the pro-democracy and pro-China. This victory goes in favour of the pro-democracy and sends a message to the establishment of China. The election was a historic one for Hong Kong and voters from all spheres cast their ballots. Approximately 3 million people joined and with the highest turnout ever, pan-democrats secured almost 90% of the 452 district council seats.
The calling out of the autonomy in Hong Kong by pro-democracy forces was out of a need for security and peace. Minimization of Beijing’s influence on Hong Kong was demanded by them and they wanted to see an independent government. As of now, the pro-democracy forces control 17 of the 18 district councils but previously they controlled none. Democrats are now more powerful with control over local affairs as well as the power to appoint a Chief Executive on their own. It is clear that people support the establishment of democracy and want to have their own democrat Chief Executive.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who refused to initiate any discussion or introduce reforms, was effectively voted out. However, her refusal to step down despite the debacle and Beijing's continued support of her leadership show the limitations of democracy in Hong Kong.
Why is this district election important?
The issue goes back to Chief Executive Carrie Lam's mishandling of the crisis which was sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition law. Hong Kong was faced by a clash between the pro-democracy supporters and the pro-Beijing supporters, and winning this election was more important for the pro-democracy groups to establish democracy.
117 district councilors will also sit on the 1,200-member committee that votes for the Chief Executive, so a pro-democracy district win could eventually translate to a bigger share in deciding who will become the city's next leader.
A record 4.1 million people - more than half the population - had registered to vote and more than 2.9 million people cast votes. It was a turnout of more than 71% against 47% in 2015.
Headache for China
Hong Kong is one of the most important business centres in the world and it has been particularly important for China’s economy. The recent district election has shown the Chinese government that it must listen to the voices of Hong Kong. This shift in the balance of power will mean that Beijing will now become more reliant on the major property developers and their business associates – at a time when Beijing has been trying to wean itself away from over-reliance on the city’s tycoons.
“The business sector’s take will become very important. Some business heavyweights have the ability to swing up to 100 votes from the financial and business sector, meaning their votes will be key to the election. When the time comes, Beijing will need to do a lot of coordination work,” said Song SiO-chong, a professor at the Centre for Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macau at Shenzhen University.
Pro-democracy groups have shown that the establishment of democracy is important for Hong Kong where influences from the central government must be minimized. It is true that Beijing will have a thinner margin, making the votes of the business community carry more weight.
Isn’t the democratic party’s victory in the district council election enough to be considered a wake-up call for Beijing?
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