Hong Kong democrats score historic victory amid ongoing protests

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Hong Kong, China – Millions voted in Hong Kong in highly anticipated local elections seen as a barometer of public opinion after nearly six months of increasingly violent protests that polarised the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Vote counting was under way with democratic candidates securing more than half the 452 district council seats for the first time.

Total turnout exceeded 2.94 million voters, a rate of 71 percent, surpassing a record from the previous legislative council election in 2016 of about 1.47 million.

As of 6am (22:00 GMT), pro-democracy candidates had won a clear majority with more than 300 seats, compared with about 41 seats for the pro-establishment camp, according to local media estimates. A record 1,104 candidates were vying for 452 seats.

Before daybreak on Sunday, long queues began to snake around the city’s neighbourhoods as a mix of young and old voters waited for the polls – the first since political unrest erupted in June – to open.

In the working-class neighbourhood of Yau Ma Tei, a regular scene of clashes between police and demonstrators, no one waiting in line wore black, surgical masks or chanted slogans – all hallmarks of the pro-democracy protest movement.

The queue was quiet and orderly as voters ate breakfast in line and scrolled through their phones. Small squads of riot police were seen mingling around.

“I would like to say ‘no’ to the government, to what they have done these past few months,” said Patrick Yeung, a 33-year-old IT worker who came early to vote, anticipating long lines.

“It makes me very angry … [Chief Executive] Carrie Lam just doesn’t listen to Hong Kong. We’ve come out so many times and they don’t listen and make this situation worse.”

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