Hong Kong: Record turnout in district polls amid pro-democracy protests

A record number of citizens flocked to the polling booth on Saturday for the election amidst the pro-democracy protests

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A record number of voters flocked to the polling booths on Sunday for the district elections. The participation is being seen as a barometer for the support of the city leader Carrie Lam and the aftermath of the six-month-long pro-democracy protest.

Government data showed 1,746,709 people had voted by 2.30 pm or a rate of 42.26 per cent with another few hours remaining before the polling stations close. Long ques were seen since 7.30 in the morning. The turn out two hours later came at around 10.4 per cent which is 3 times the turn out of the previous election, Efe news reported.

In a city of 7.5 million residents, 4.1 million people are eligible to vote in the election to choose 452 councillors out of 1,090 participating in the elections that are being held in 18 districts in Hong Kong.

Compared to the previous elections the number of registered voters has increased by 1 million. Although the position of the councillor has little political relevance, this election will be used to gauge the political leanings of the city after the pro-democracy protests that have been happening for the past couple of months in the autonomous region of Hong Kong. This will also determine the support enjoyed by Carrie Lam.

Chief Executive Lam said that in recent days the city has started to recover its peace and that many had appreciated it, alluding to the relative calm in Hong Kong over the last five days to ensure the elections were not canceled.

Most people came to vote early following rumours spread on social media warning that if any altercation took place the voting would be suspended by 10.30 am and only the votes already polled would be counted. The first results are expected to come in by midnight.