Hong Kong sees record low turnout in ‘patriots’-only election


Hong Kong saw record low voter turnout during Sunday’s election, in which all candidates were approved by Beijing, as about 30 percent of its residents took part in the polls, the BBC reported.

The next lowest turnout in an election for the Legislative Council, known as LegCo, was in 2000 when just over 43 percent voted, The Wall Street Journal noted.

The election came under a new measure that let Beijing scrutinize candidates to ensure that only “patriots” were allowed to participate, a move seen as further asserting Chinese control of the island. Hong Kong officials argued the measure would provide stability to the election process, according to the BBC.

Only 20 of the 90 seats on the legislative council are directly elected, as special interest organizations choose 30 of the council’s seats and its election commission, sympathetic to Beijing, chooses the remaining 40 seats. 

The council has important roles in enacting, amending and repealing laws, as well as reviewing and approving spending. 

The low turnout comes China escalates suppression of speech and democracy in the city, which earlier this year saw its pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily shuttered and five of its editors and executives arrested.

Bloomberg has reported that more than 150 people have been arrested under a national security law enacted last year, most for public statements and political activities.