Meddling by Peking backfires in HK poll

Pro-democracy candidates have again triumphed in Hong Kong elections, despite warnings from Chinese officials on the eve of polling to avoid voting for "trouble-makers". Final results for the first fully elected municipal councils released yesterday showed that the Democratic Party, led by Martin Lee, branded a "subversive'' by China, retained its position as the territory's most popular party.

The Democrats' most spectacular victory came in the working-class Kwun Tong district, where Szeto Wah, one of its leaders, defeated the incumbent and social-rights campaigner, Elsie Tu. Mrs Tu had never lost a election but evidently suffered from her recent appointment as a Hong Kong adviser to the Chinese government and the high-profile campaigning support she received from pro-China organisations. The Democratic Party secured election of 23 councillors in all.

However, the main pro-China party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), made a respectable showing, ending up with eight seats. A smaller pro-democracy party also won eight.

Stephen Tang, an election specialist from the Chinese University, said the unprecedented level of Chinese official activity in the election was counter-productive, as it encouraged voters to turn out and support pro- democracy candidates.

On the eve of the election Wang Rudeng, an official from the New China New Agency (NCNA), which acts as Peking's de facto embassy in the territory, urged voters to support "patriotic'' candidates. In the weeks before the poll, NCNA officials, for the first time, openly campaigned for "patriotic'' candidates and played a mediating role to ensure that pro-China candidates were not in direction competition.

The campaign appears to have paid dividends in some rural areas where traditional local leaders aligned themselves with the pro-China camp. Just under half of the 43 candidates who are official advisers to the Chinese government managed to secure election.

The Liberal Party, a pro-business grouping formed by appointed legislators, once seen as the major opposition to the Democratic Party, is steadily fading. It mustered three candidates for the election; only one was elected.

Traditional voter apathy prevailed, although the turn-out rate inched up by 2.7 per cent, with a quarter of the electorate voting where there was a contest. Sunday's poll was conducted under the controversial constitutional reform package initiated by Governor Chris Patten, which has incurred China's wrath. Hitherto a number of seats were filled by appointees.

Although the election has some significance in itself, all eyes are now on September's legislative-council elections, which are seen as the definitive test of the political strength of the pro-China and pro-democracy forces. The message of the municipal elections is largely positive for the democrats, who have done remarkably well to sustain such high levels of support but is far from dispiriting for the pro-China camp, which is running strongly in second place.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Life and Style
i100

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Network Infrastructure Technical Lead - up to £45k DOE - Surrey

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Technical Architect - Surrey - £35k-£45k DOE - Permanent

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Year 5 Teachers needed for supply roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Year 5 Teacher Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 5 Primary Teacher...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week