Hong Kong pro-democracy camp suffers election setback

Hong Kong is holding by-elections with the chance to vote for anti China candidates

AFP reports that there were several instances of confrontation between the pro-democracy and pro-Beijing voters at several of the polling stations.

Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement has suffered a setback at crucial by-elections which resulted in them losing their all important veto in the former British colony.

"I will bear full responsibility for the failure", Yiu said, while denying that he had underestimated the competition.

The vote pits pro-Beijing loyalists against opposition candidates competing for four seats in the city's semi-democratic legislature. "The democracy camp has faced huge suppressions due to the political turmoil over these years".

"This election is not just a normal election; it is a battle between the pro-Beijing camp and the pro-democracy camp", Chow said.

He said factional strife within the broader pan-democratic camp meant that voters won't necessarily back a candidate within their preferred camp but not from their preferred party.

Political observers also noted that pro-establishment lawmakers could take advantage of their election advances to bulldoze controversial policies or laws through Legco.

"We may have beaten the.pro-establishment camp in New Territories East, but we have to review and make changes to the way we operate".

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The by-election marked the first time the democratic camp has lost its long-standing veto power via the ballot box.

"I think this the biggest damage done was the loss of Kowloon West, which will have the biggest direct impact in terms of the veto", Mok said. They were accused of failing to take an oath in a proper manner as members of the Legislative Council. The two remaining seats have yet to be filled.

Under the "one country, two systems" framework, Beijing promised to let Hong Kong maintain wide autonomy and civil liberties following its 1997 handover from Britain.

The other lost seat in the by-election was the defeat of Paul Zimmerman to pro-Beijing candidate Tony Tse in the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency, by a mere 584 votes.

The pair, both members of the youth group Youngspiration, had vowed allegiance to the "Hong Kong Nation" and carried banners saying "Hong Kong is not China" during their swearing-in ceremonies, while Yau swore in her reference to China. The electoral watchdog's ruling that Demosisto's calls for "self-determination" for Hong Kong violated the city's mini-constitution sparked a political storm in January.

Two other legislators, Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai, are still in the process of appealing their disqualifications after failing to satisfactorily make an oath to Beijing.

Hong Kong residents voted Sunday in by-elections that give opposition supporters the chance to recapture lost ground in a contest measuring voters' appetite for democracy in the semiautonomous Chinese city. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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