Legislative elections in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's main pro-democracy party demanded on Monday a partial recount of the vote in the city's legislative elections, after officials had failed to announce a single result eight hours after polls closed. A returning officer announced to candidates tentative results for one directly elected geographical constituency early on Monday, but was unable to give final figures. "I'm now formally requesting a recount of the votes," Democratic Party leader, Yeung Sum, said after the officer was unable to say whether the number of ballot papers issued equalled the number of votes tallied. Exit polls showed voters opted for stability, giving the slimmest of gains to pro-democracy candidates and a bigger than expected victory to pro-Beijing politicians, informs Reuters. According to the NEWS, Pro-democracy opposition candidates were heading to significant victories in Hong Kong elections yesterday as the people of the former British colony flocked to the polls to register their dissatisfaction with rule by Communist Beijing. Television exit polls indicated that residents of Hong Kong have sent several anti-government politicians to the legislature. The opposition candidates, viewed as "traitors" by China, were projected to gain the most votes but were expected to fall short of a majority in the Legislative Council. But with a projected hold on at least 18 of the 30 directly elected seats, pro-democracy candidates will be able to weaken the unpopular rule of the Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, by making it harder for him to pass bills. Exit polls suggested that pro-Beijing politicians failed to knock out Hong Kong's best-known opposition figure, the Democratic Party's Martin Lee. Projected wins for the opposition camp also included triumph for a veteran activist famous for his colourful protests. Polls indicated that "Longhair" Leung Kwok-hung is likely to gain a seat inside the legislature, and will be a thorn in the side of Mr Tung's government. Only 11 seats were predicted to go to pro-government candidates; final results were expected this morning. More than 1.7 million people turned out to vote in the elections. Turnout for the election was so high that some polling stations ran out of ballot boxes. Ahead of crucial parliamentary elections in Hong Kong, a leading U.S.-based rights group has accused the Chinese government of creating a "climate of fear" designed to affect the result. Hong Kong's 3.2 million registered voters will go to the polls Sunday to elect members of the Legislative Council (LegCo). Half of the body's 60 seats are up for direct election, while the rest are filled by business and professional groups, mostly loyal to China's communist central government. The territory's pro-democracy camp hopes to increase its representation substantially in the LegCo, although analysts say a majority is unlikely, given a convoluted proportional representation system. The former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, under an agreement that promised an advanced level of autonomy and a capitalist way of life for at least 50 years. Hong Kong democrats have been wrangling with Beijing over expanding voting rights, specifically the right to directly elect all lawmakers and the territory's chief executive by the next election cycle, in 2007-8. Last April, the central government unilaterally ruled that out. In a report released Thursday, Human Rights Watch said an intimidation campaign was underway to undermine the pro-democracy opposition, publishes CNSNews.

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