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Hong Kong: Record low turnout in national elections

Despite extended polling station opening hours, fewer people cast ballots in Sunday’s local elections in Hong Kong. Only 27.5 percent of the 4.3 million people exercised their right to vote.

There is a big difference from 2019, when the participation rate reached more than 70 percent. At that time, the opposition achieved a landslide victory. This time, Hong Kong residents had almost no choice. No opposition candidate was given the green light to run after election laws were changed and only “national” politicians were allowed.

For the government, the elections were a test About how much support there is for the new system. The answer is low. The choice of many to remain at home cannot be interpreted as anything other than resistance or indifference towards the current government. The possibility of influencing the population decreased. In the new system, only 20 percent of district council members are directly elected by residents. Previously, 94% of them were elected directly. Now an overwhelming majority of committees are appointed pro-Beijing or Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s new national security law has severely limited opportunities for residents to criticize the government. So not voting is one of the few ways to show your displeasure. Many believe that the elections are meaningless because the candidates do not differ significantly in their policies. It’s a stage they don’t want to play on.

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