District elections in Hong Kong, in which only pro-Beijing candidates were allowed, were held with a record low turnout of 27.5%, the Chinese Special Region Authority reports.
In the previous similar elections in 2019, turnout exceeded 71%. Then, against the backdrop of mass protests, democratic forces won by a large margin – for the first time in the modern history of Hong Kong.
In response to this, the electoral legislation in the special region was tightened. Now three quarters of district deputies are appointed, and only 88 are directly elected – but they must be approved by government committees to get on the ballot.
As a result, not a single candidate from the Democratic Party or even from the centrists was allowed to participate in the elections. Among the admitted candidates, 70% turned out to be employees of government committees, Al Jazeera writes.
Hong Kong leader John Lee said the results of the vote are “the final puzzle to realize the principles of the patriots governing Hong Kong.” Lee noted that Hong Kong needs stability and the 2019 elections were used to threaten national security.
To attract voters to the polling stations, the authorities, among other things, organized free concerts and fairs. More than 12,000 police officers were deployed throughout Hong Kong on election day. According to authorities, at least six people were arrested and accused of inciting the disruption of the elections and calling for the spoiling of ballots.
Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. The special region was given broad autonomy for at least fifty years. Under the “One Country, Two Systems” policy, Hong Kong is governed by its people, and China is responsible only for foreign policy and defense of the special region.