Democrats fail to gain ground in Hong Kong


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The Independent Online

Election results released yesterday gave an edge to the pro-China faction in Hong Kong's legislature, where power is split between those aligned with Beijing and those who favour further democratic reforms. The pro-democratic parties, however, retained enough seats to veto any proposed changes to the former British colony's constitution.

Many expected that Hong Kong's broad array of pro-democracy parties would make big gains with support from people increasingly frustrated with the new Beijing-backed leader over a wide range of issues.

But the gains failed to materialise because the pro-democracy camp, which has been divided by feuds and rivalries, failed to mount a unified strategy against their pro-Beijing rivals.

In Sunday's election, 40 of the 70 seats on the Legislative Council, which were decided by voters, were split fairly evenly between the two sides. Pro-democratic candidates won 21 seats – 18 in local districts and three more so-called "super seats" open to nearly all voters city-wide. Pro-Beijing rivals won 19 seats – 17 local and two super seats.

Another 30 seats were chosen by members of business and special interest groups known as "functional constituencies", most of which are dominated by pro-Beijing figures. Pro-democracy candidates won only six of those seats.

Still, pro-democracy candidates retained 27 of the 70 seats, more than the minimum 24 needed for veto power on constitutional issues, the most contentious being the eventual introduction of full democracy.

Beijing has pledged to allow residents to choose their leader by 2017 and all lawmakers by 2020. AP