Democracy candidates failed to recapture key seats, depriving the camp of veto power on most bills in city’s parliament
Hong Kong pro-Beijing by-election candidate Vincent Cheng Wing-shun bows to his pro-democracy by-election rival Edward Yiu. Wing-shun wo a seat at the legislative council by-elections in Hong Kong. Photograph: Kin Cheung/AP
Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners have suffered a blow after weekend elections saw them lose critical influence in the city’s government.
Democracy candidates failed to recapture two out of four seats in crucial by elections on Sunday in the former British colony, with the loss depriving the camp of their power to block most bills in the city’s 70 seat parliament.
All four seats were previously held by members of pro-democracy parties who were ejected after controversy surrounding their oaths of office in 2016. Two more banned lawmakers are still contesting their disqualification in court.
China has taken an increasingly hard line against dissent in Hong Kong in recent years and the election was widely seen as a referendum on the creeping influence of Beijing.
Over the past few years Chinese security agents have abducted Hong Kong booksellers, Beijing has evoked a power to rewrite Hong Kong laws and the government has moved to criminalise some forms of protest that involved “disrespecting” the national anthem. Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed government has also sought to jail dozens of protesters, including several prominent politicians.
“I won’t say the result today is a victory,” Au Nok-hin, who won a seat for the democrats on Hong Kong island, said after his results were announced. “I would say it’s only a hollow victory, because we’ve paid a rather high price for it. The democracy camp has faced huge suppressions due to the political turmoil in these years.”
Au ran only after prominent student activist Agnes Chow was banned from standing for election over her party’s political views.