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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before