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In what was the first Hong Kong legislative election since Beijing overhauled the electoral system to allow the vetting and restriction of candidates according to their political views and “patriotism”, turnout hit a record low.

As CNN reports, it’s also the city’s first Legislative Council election since stringent new electoral reforms were passed in March.

The changes gave the government greater vetting powers, dramatically lessening the public’s ability to vote directly for candidates, and only allowed government-screened “patriots” – those loyal to Beijing and its ruling Communist Party – to stand.

Under the previous system, about half of the 70-seat legislature was directly elected by the public, while the other half was chosen by trade and industry bodies that usually favor pro-China candidates.

As Statista’s Martin Armstrong notes, since 1998, the share of eligible voters casting their ballot has been between 44 and 58 percent.

This time round though, despite government officials urging people to vote as well as providing free public transport, that sunk to just 30 percent.

Infographic: Hong Kong Voter Turnout Sinks to Record Low | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

This increase in voter apathy has largely been attributed to what Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US referred to in a post-election joint statement as “grave concern over the erosion of democratic elements” in Hong Kong. China, on the other hand describes the recent changes as a push to ensure stability after a prolonged period of protests which began in 2019.

Carrie Lam, the city’s leader, thanked voters late Sunday night, saying it was “an important election following the improvements to the electoral system to implement the principle of ‘patriots administering Hong Kong.”

After the election, won by pro-China candidates, China said in a white paper that Hong Kong was now entering a new stage of “restored order”.


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