Hong Kong election: Anti-China activists set to take LegCo seats

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Nathan Law speaks after winning a LegCo seat in Hong Kong (5 Sept 2016)
Nathan Law was a leading figure in the student-led protests of 2014

A new generation of anti-China activists have won seats on Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo), preliminary results indicate.

Among them is Nathan Law, one of the young leaders of the mass pro-democracy demonstrations of 2014, who is now on course to win a constituency seat.

It is the first taste of real political power for the young protest leaders.

But pro-Beijing politicians will retain a majority of seats, partly because of the electoral system.

Results were delayed by a record voter turnout, which saw some 58% of 3.8 million registered voters queue up, compared with 45.2% in 2008.

Ballot box in Hong Kong (5 Sept 2016)
Vote-counting was delayed by a record voter turnout

“I think Hong Kongers really wanted change,” AFP quoted Mr Law as saying. “Young people have a sense of urgency when it comes to the future.”

The election is the first in the territory since the 2014 “Umbrella Protests”, which saw central areas of Hong Kong paralysed by mostly young protesters demanding great democracy.

With 90% of votes counted, Mr Law, 23, had the second highest number of votes in the Hong Kong Island constituency, meaning he will take a LegCo seat. He is a member of the Demosisto party, set up by student leaders of the protests which calls for self-determination for Hong Kong.

Nine lines of people queue at a polling station to vote for the legislative council election Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016.
Huge numbers of people queued after the polls closed, amid accusations of poor planning

At least three other pro-independence activists were confirmed to have won seats.

Candidates were competing for 70 seats on the LegCo, which passes laws and budgets in the territory. But only 35 constituency seats are directly elected by the population.

Another 30 seats represent particular professions or trades and can only be voted for people connected to the trade, just 6% of the population. A further five “super seats” are chosen by voters across the territory.

The vote does not elect the chief executive, who is the head of government, but many analysts believe the outcome could have an impact on whether China grants current leader CY Leung a second term in office.

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