Only 30 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballots in Hong Kong’s parliamentary elections on Sunday. This was reported by the person in charge of the electoral authority. This is a historically low turnout.
Of the 4.47 million registered voters, only 1.35 million voted. This is the least popular ever. In the previous elections five years ago, 58.3 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots.
Sunday’s election was the first since China reformed the electoral process in May. Observers had been expecting a low turnout as many Hong Kong residents gave up hope for democratic change.
The city’s premier, Carrie Lam, said before the election that low turnout wouldn’t mean much. “When the government does things right and its credibility is strong, voter turnout is lower because people don’t really feel the need to elect new representatives,” she said.
Since the revision of the electoral process, only 20 of the 90 seats in Parliament are eligible for general elections (compared to 35 of 70 previously). The so-called 1,500-member pro-China electoral commission ran for another 40 seats in Parliament; The remaining 30 seats will go to representatives of sectors also interested in the People’s Republic.
The Electoral Commission also decided who can run for a seat in Parliament. All 153 candidates had to show political loyalty and “patriotism.” This means that pro-democracy activists could not run for office or surrendered if they had not yet quit politics, run away or are in prison under the strict security law that began in 2020.
In May, Hong Kong’s parliament approved the biggest change to the electoral system in a long time, aimed at perpetuating China’s power. This was the most comprehensive reform of the city’s electoral system since 1997, when the United Kingdom handed Hong Kong over to the Communist People’s Republic.