Long lines formed outside Hong Kong polling stations on Sunday in elections that have become a barometer of public support for anti-government protests now in their sixth month.
The voting for 452 seats in the city’s 18 district councils has taken on symbolic importance in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. A strong showing by the opposition would show that the public still supports the pro-democracy movement, even as the protests have become increasingly violent.
The ruling camp in Hong Kong and the national government in Beijing hope that the unrest and disruption to daily life will turn voters against the movement.
Democracy activist Joshua Wong, who was barred from running in the election, voted soon after polls opened at 7:30 a.m.
The councils are largely advisory and have little power.
There has been a rare break in the violence in recent days as protesters, anxious to validate their cause through the ballot box, hit the pause button to ensure the polls won’t be postponed.
“We need to show the world that our cause is legitimate. I don’t believe that Beijing will not respond to the Hong Kong people’s voice,” a black-clad and masked student Alex Wong said during a peaceful march on Saturday.
Hong Kong Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said that the vote is a “real democratic exercise,” and that a strong police presence at polling stations will ensure that it proceeds smoothly.
Online messages from protest support groups have advised people not to wear black or face masks during voting in case they are targeted by police.
Trump says administration to take ‘good look’ at Hong Kong rights billPresident Donald Trump said on Friday his administration would take a “good look” at a Hong Kong bill that passed the US Congress nearly ... World News
Campus siege nears end as Hong Kong gears up for electionA Hong Kong university campus under siege for more than a week was a deserted wasteland on Saturday, with a handful of protesters holed up in hidden ... World News
Court suspends ruling on ‘unlawful’ Hong Kong mask ban for seven daysHong Kong police can continue enforcing a ban on demonstrators wearing masks for the next seven days, the High Court said Friday, to allow the ... World News
Protesters stay holed up on Hong Kong campus, surrounded by riot policeFewer than 100 protesters remained holed up in a Hong Kong university on Thursday as riot police encircled the campus, with some activists still ... World News