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Hong Kong votes on Sunday a crucial local elections in the light of protests

November 23, 2019

The result in the rural populations, key to show that the opposition to Beijing has been installed in the political organization chart of the territory

MADRID, Nov. 23 (EUROPE PRESS) –

Hong Kong goes to the polls this Sunday at local elections that would not have been more important had it not been because they occur in the middle of the biggest revolts in the territory's history since its return to China in 1997.

Protests still under way and triggered by a suspended extradition of suspects law to China, in which the participants in the marches consider a violation of the judicial integrity of the territory, and that led them in March to leave for the first time at streets, and intensify his position this summer, with a second wave of demonstrations already faced face to face with the Police.

The elections, where 452 councilors will be elected, have brought together the opposition in a united front that, for the first time, intends to dispute the favorable candidates for Beijing until the last seat. They are coordinating all their candidates to prevent fragmentation of vote.

The Hong Kong Police Commissioner, Tang Ping Keung, had called on Friday for peace and “vote without interference”, but this has not prevented further skirmishes between protesters and police, this time on the bridge in front of the Hong Stock Exchange Kong in Exchange Square, where up to a hundred people have congregated, according to the 'South China Morning Post'.

There is also the danger of direct violence against deputies and activist leaders, such as legislator Junius Ho, favorable to China or activist Jimmy Sham. Among all these acts, both the population and the councilors have denounced a climate of intimidation. “It is impossible for the elections to be fair with an atmosphere like this,” Councilor Clement Woo, a Chinese supporter, has lamented.

The Hong Kong Government, however, has decided to hold the elections. “We do not want to see a postponement of the elections if it is not absolutely necessary,” said Secretary for Constitutional and Continental China Affairs, Patrick Nip.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RURAL AREAS

All experts agree that these elections will be decided in the rural suburbs of the territory, such as the town of Yuen Long, near the Chinese border. The one that has been an unbreakable bastion of the oficialismo has been shaken by the impact of the disturbances until such point that it could be witness of a turnaround in the local power.

“The district council is not very powerful, but it is not totally impotent,” explains Tommy Cheung, a pan-Democratic candidate for Yuen Long, a former student leader of the pro-democratic protests of the Umbrella Revolution that paralyzed parties. of the financial center for 79 days in 2014.

Cheung, 25, runs a business that markets agricultural products and had planned to study abroad until an attack in Yuen Long on July 21, in full swing of violence at the demonstrations, made him change his mind.

That night, more than 100 men dressed in white shirts – according to protesters, members of the Chinese Mafia in the service of Beijing – beat the participants in the protests at the train station, before the passivity of the Police The incident did not He only angered Cheung, who decided to appear at the Department only to investigate this assault.

“The political factors will be much more important than the problems of the community. But in Yuen Long, what happened on the 21st is not just a political problem, it is also a problem for everyone,” he explains.

ANSIA OF NORMALITY

The fact that 4.1 million people from a population of 7.4 million have registered to vote, a record figure, responds in part to feeling popular after months of protests, which have not only fed the critical sector with Beijing, but also to conservatives who want the return of normalcy.

“If the district council elections had been held in May, June or July, I think the Democrats would have had an overwhelming victory,” explained the senior professor of electoral policy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Ivan Choy. “After five months … I'm worried that moderate voters want to restore order,” he adds.

If democracy activists gain control of the district councils on Sunday's vote, they could get six seats in the city's Legislative Council, and 117 seats in the 1,200-member committee that selects Hong's chief executive. Kong It is a test, the professor adds, to measure the democratic health of the territory.

“Hong Kong has long been dominated by conservative and rural forces. If Democrats can get more seats in areas outside the cities, such as Yuen Long, it would mean that the movement's support and sentiment against Beijing are stronger than the people think”.

The political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong, Cheung Chor Yung, believes that the pro-democratic sector will do well if there is high electoral participation. “If the opposition network is able to penetrate each constituency, Beijing will be unable to ignore its presence,” he says.

Jason Chong, a 28-year-old candidate of the Democratic Alliance for Improvement and Progress of Hong Kong, the most important pro-Chinese party in the territory, has declared himself eager to improve the quality of life in his hometown.

With three years of experience as a community officer for his political party and the advice of his father, a former district councilor, Chong is familiar with the role and said this election is “a totally different game,” comparing the candidates They campaign during protests with doctors who serve in war zones.

“Before the war, you were just doing normal jobs. But during the war, you have to do much more: more patients come in. I think it's a bit similar in politics,” said Chong, aware of the disappointment of young people with the Government and fears for its future.

“You have to listen to what they say,” Chong has asked. “If not, we will lose them. They can leave Hong Kong, or they can do something stupid that they can later regret and end up in jail.”