In Hong Kong there is a vote for local elections


In Hong Kong – where violent protests against the local government and against China have been taking place for months – today there is a vote to elect the 452 members of the 18 district councils in the region and the first data suggests a very high turnout. At noon on Sunday (Hong Kong is 7 hours ahead of Italy) they had already voted more people than they had done overall in the previous local elections in 2015.

In itself these elections are not so important. The responsibilities of the district councilors are above all local: they control the expenditure of the districts, and serve as a gym and springboard for emerging politicians. The councilors cannot directly shape the legislative council but have some influence on the 1,200-member committee that selects the chief executive, who is made up of one-tenth district councilors. The importance of the elections – after months of protests – is more than symbolic: the pro-democracy protesters hope to obtain a result that certifies the support of their positions in the population, while the Hong Kong governor Carrie Lam hopes for an opposite result .

For weeks it was feared that China could put pressure on suspending or postponing elections due to protests (Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous region): the vote instead started regularly and there were no clashes or tensions. As required by electoral rules, candidates for independence from China could not run for office, including well-known activist Joshua Wong.

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