Pro-democracy campaigners secured a huge victory in council elections in Hong Kong on Sunday, propelled by months of protests across the Chinese territory.
The voters elected representatives into council offices that deal with local issues like sewage disposal and motor parks, but the outcome has been viewed across the world as a major blow to China.
It was the first election since protests broke out across Hong Kong in June over a controversial extradition bill that was proposed by the country’s chief executive, Carrie Lam. Ms Lam withdrew the proposal in September, but the protesters said it was insufficient, demanding suffrage and independent investigation of police’s handling of the protests.
Young people who led the protests across Hong Kong also played a key role in putting the pro-democracy parties far above in the Sunday election. Pro-democracy candidates won unprecedented 389 of 452 elected seats, up from only 124 before the election. Parties that align with China, which controls Hong Kong, won only 58 seats, a massive defeat from 300 before the election.
The Civic Party, a pro-democracy movement, won most of the seats.
The victory would likely bolster the ongoing struggle for democracy in Hong Kong as it indicates massive support of the people for the pro-democracy movement and ongoing protests.
The district councils are largely seen as democratic bodies in Hong Kong, and most of the candidates are directly elected, unlike the legislature where only about half of the members are elected.
The position of the chief executive is indirectly chosen by a committee whose members are largely pro-China. Still, the outcome of the council results would give democrats more influence on that committee ahead of 2022 selection of a new chief executive.
But China may see the victory as a threat and become even more draconian in its handling of the volatile political situation in Hong Kong, which the world has been watching with keen interest on the sidelines.