2019 Hong Kong local elections
All Elected Constituencies
452 (of the 479) seats in all 18 Districts Councils
|Turnout||2,943,842 (71.23%) 24.22pp|
Map of the winning party by constituency
The 2019 Hong Kong District Council elections were held on 24 November 2019 for all 18 District Councils of Hong Kong, the sixth such election since the 1997 handover. 452 seats from all directly elected constituencies, out of the 479 seats in total, were contested. Nearly three million people voted, equivalent to 71 per cent of registered voters, an unprecedented turnout in the electoral history of Hong Kong. The election was widely viewed as a de facto referendum on the ongoing pro-democracy protests.
The pro-democracy camp in conjunction with the localist groups achieved its biggest landslide victory in the history of Hong Kong, gaining control of 17 of the 18 District Councils and tripling their seats from around 124 to about 388. The pro-democrats would also be able to capture 117 District Council subsector seats in the 1,200-member Election Committee, which is responsible for electing the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Pro-Beijing parties and independent candidates won only 62 seats, a loss of more than 242 seats.
All pro-Beijing parties suffered major setbacks and losses, including the flagship pro-Beijing party Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), which received its largest defeat in history, losing 96 seats despite also winning a plurality of the popular vote. Executive Councillor Regina Ip's New People's Party failed to obtain a single seat, and was ousted from all District Councils as a result.
Dozens of prominent pro-Beijing heavyweights lost their campaigns for re-election, including Junius Ho, a controversial anti-protest figure who had expressed support for the triads behind the mob attack in Yuen Long on 21 July. In contrast, many pro-democracy candidates who actively participated in the protests were elected, including convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) Jimmy Sham.
Boundary changes[edit source | edit]
In July 2017, following a review of the numbers of elected seats for each District Council having regard to local population forecasts, the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) proposed to create 21 new elected seats across 10 District Councils:
- One new seat for each of Kowloon City, Yau Tsim Mong and Tsuen Wan District Councils;
- Two new seats for each of Sham Shui Po, Kwai Tsing, Tuen Mun and Sai Kung District Councils;
- Three new seats for each of Kwun Tong and Sha Tin District Councils; and
- Four new seats for the Yuen Long District Council.
Accordingly, the total number of elected seats for the 2019 elections increased by 21 from 431 to 452.
Gerrymandering concerns[edit source | edit]
Some pro-democracy District Councillors accused the EAC of gerrymandering, stating that the borders of their constituencies were altered "unreasonably" to adversely affect their parties' election prospects. EAC chairman Barnabas Fung responded that the changes were based purely on an objective calculation. "Factors with political implications would definitely not be taken into consideration," Fung said.
Background[edit source | edit]
Project Storm[edit source | edit]
In April 2017, Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai proposed the "Project Storm" strategy to win the majority of the District Council seats for the pro-democrats in the coming election. He stated that by winning a majority of the some 400 District Council seats, the pro-democracy camp could gain an additional 117 seats of the District Council subsectors on the 1,200-member Election Committee which elects the Chief Executive. Tai believed that by making it harder for Beijing to manipulate the Chief Executive election, it would compel Beijing to restart the stalled political reform after its restrictive proposal was voted down in 2015 in the aftermath of the Occupy protests.
Power for Democracy, a group that coordinated different parties and groups in the pro-democracy camp, has worked with pro-democrats to identify suitable candidates for all 452 constituencies. The group also held rounds of non-binding primaries to select a candidate if more than one pro-democrat was interested in running in the same constituency. However, the camp still risked doubling up in about 30 constituencies.
Anti-extradition bill protests[edit source | edit]
In mid 2019, the Carrie Lam administration pushed forward the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 to establish a mechanism that would allow the extradition of fugitives to any territory not covered by existing extradition treaties, including Taiwan, Mainland China and Macau. The proposal's purported purpose was to fill a legal loophole that allowed a Hong Kong suspect involved in a homicide case not to be extradited to Taiwan in 2018. The proposed bill raised grave concerns from various sectors of society, including lawyers, journalists, businesses, as well as foreign governments, who feared the heightened risk that Hong Kong citizens, dissidents, and foreign nationals passing through the city without safeguards of the local courts could be sent for trial to Mainland China, an authoritarian regime where courts are under direct Chinese political control.
Starting from June, rounds of demonstrations were attended by hundreds of thousands of people. The government first suspended the bill, and later proposed the withdrawal of the bill in September, which officially took place in October. The pro-Beijing parties, who were among the strongest advocates of the bill, worried that their support of the controversial bill as well as the abrupt U-turn would cost them votes in the upcoming District Council elections and the next year's Legislative Council election, risking a repeat of their devastating defeat in the 2003 District Council elections following the highly controversial national security legislation, which sparked massive protests across the city in 2003. There were also reports that the government was looking into the possibility of cancelling polls in areas where serious protests took place, or even postponing the elections altogether by invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance.
Registration drive[edit source | edit]
Registration drives are uncommon in Hong Kong, but promotion from campaigners led tens of thousands of new voters to register during mass protests against the controversial extradition bill, pouncing on an opportunity to bolster the democratic opposition's prospects in the upcoming elections. The total number of registered voters for the 2019 elections grew unprecedentedly, with over 386,000 newly registered electors being counted, an election cycle record turnout since the handover of Hong Kong. The number of registered voters between the ages of 18 and 35 alone has jumped by more than 12 per cent compared to last year.
While the number of registered voters has been increasing steadily, large social movements and demonstrations have a tendency to galvanize registration. In 2004, 303,885 people had registered after half a million people took to the streets to protest against a government-proposed national security law criminalizing "sedition", which was based on Article 23 of the Basic Law. In 2015, 262,633 people registered as voters after the 2014 Occupy protests.
According to the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) under the EAC, the number of registered voters in the final registers for 2019 is 4,132,977, a record high since the handover of Hong Kong.
Nominations and disqualifications[edit source | edit]
An unprecedented 1,104 nomination forms were received by the Returning officers in the two-week nomination period from 4 to 17 October, of which six nominees withdrew their candidatures before the end of the nomination period. It is the first time in Hong Kong's history that all 452 District Council seats were contested, compared to the previous elections in 2015 where 68 seats were left uncontested.
At least four candidates, including Tommy Cheung Sau-yin, Mo Kai-hong, Liu Qing of the Democratic Party, and Billy Chan Shiu-yeung of the Community Sha Tin movement received letters from Returning Officers asking them to explain what they meant when they said "Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times", a popular slogan that was frequently used in the anti-extradition protests. Two other hopefuls also received letters asking for their stance on Hong Kong independence, including Demosistō secretary-general Joshua Wong, who planned to run for the South Horizons West constituency. Wong was asked if he was running on behalf of his party Demosistō and if he supported the notion of "self-determination" for Hong Kong. Agnes Chow, a member of Demosistō, was barred from running in the March 2018 Legislative Council by-election on the grounds that Demosistō advocated "self-determination".
Henry Wong Pak-yu, who aimed for a seat in the Tin Heng constituency, was also questioned for his previous public pro-independence statements. Both Wongs denied they supported the Hong Kong independence movement. Political scientist Ma Ngok warned that any disqualification would only fuel the flames of the ongoing political crisis. In light of the risk of being disqualified, Joshua Wong and at least 12 other pro-democracy candidates, including former student leader Lester Shum and pro-democracy legislator Eddie Chu, arranged for a backup candidate to stand in the same constituency before the nomination period ended, as their candidacy had not yet been confirmed by the Returning Officers. Chu was previously disqualified from running in the January rural representative election by Returning Officer Enoch Yuen Ka-lok, citing his stance of supporting "self-determination".
More than ten days after the nomination period, acting Returning Officer Laura Liang Aron, who replaced Dorothy Ma Chau Pui-fun who took indefinite sick leave, barred Joshua Wong from running due to political reasons, making Wong the only pro-democrat to be disqualified due to his political stance in the election. Aron issued a six-page ruling noting that Wong dropped his advocacy of the option of independence as "a compromise, instead of a genuine intention" as Wong referred to Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping's remarks on separatism as a "stern threat" and reason for him and Demosistō to give up the advocacy of independence. Wong said the Returning Officer's decision showed that the central government was rigging the election, which was expected to be a key test of public sentiment about the protest movement. Kelvin Lam Ho-por, who stood in the same constituency, was widely believed to be Joshua Wong's substitute in case Wong was barred from running.
Pre-election events[edit source | edit]
Election rally on 2 November[edit source | edit]
Over a hundred pro-democracy candidates launched an election rally at Victoria Park on 2 November, citing the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance which allowed for election meetings to be held in public, following the police rejection of the organisers' initial demonstration application.
Soon after the assembly started, the police quickly declared the rally an unauthorized assembly and dispersed attendees using means such as tear gas, pepper spray, and water cannons. Three pro-democrat candidates, Osman Cheng Chung-hang, Richard Chan Chun-chit and Man Nim-chi, were seen being taken away by the police. During the operation, officers pepper-sprayed Chan to subdue him, prompting calls from rally-goers for his release.
The protests continued with clashes emerging between the police and protesters, where protesters responded to the police crackdown by throwing petrol bombs, vandalizing MTR stations and shops seen as sympathetic to the Beijing government, spraying graffiti on walls and building barricades on streets, and capping the 21st week of anti-government demonstrations.
Physical attacks on candidates[edit source | edit]
Both pro-Democrat and pro-Beijing candidates were physically attacked in the run-up to the election. In late September, Stanley Ho Wai-hong of the Labour Party, who was running in the Pak Sha Wan constituency, was attacked by four men dressed in white that were carrying metal rods. He suffered severe head injuries and several fractures to both of his hands. On 16 October, Jimmy Sham, the convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) and the candidate for the Lek Yuen constituency, was hospitalized after being attacked on Arran Street in Mong Kok by at least four men wielding hammers and spanners. Pro-democracy candidates Jocelyn Chau Hui-yan and Jannelle Rosalynne Leung, who were running for the City Garden and Yuet Wah constituencies respectively, were also attacked by pro-Beijing thugs and rioters.
On 3 November, during a protest at Cityplaza, the Democratic Party's Andrew Chiu, defending his Tai Koo Shing West seat, was stabbed by a pro-Beijing Mandarin-speaking male with a knife when he tried to stop a fight after the attacker had already assaulted several people. His left ear was partially bitten off by the attacker, and he was forced to undergo ear re-attachment surgery in hospital, which was ultimately unsuccessful.
On the morning of 6 November, pro-Beijing Legislative Councillor Junius Ho was also stabbed by a man with a knife while campaigning for re-election to the Tuen Mun District Council in his Lok Tsui constituency. The attacker shouted abusive expletives at Ho, accusing him of being involved in the mob attacks in Yuen Long on 21 July. Ho received a stab injury to his chest and was later hospitalised. Ho's assistant and the attacker were also injured by the knife before the attacker was finally arrested.
Fraud allegations[edit source | edit]
Alleged false claims of allegiance[edit source | edit]
There were several self-proclaimed pro-democrat candidates who were later found to be members of pro-Beijing groups and organizations, who contested the elections in the hope of snatching votes from legitimate pro-democracy candidates that were endorsed by the pro-democracy camp. For example, in the Tai Pat Tin East constituency, there was a minor candidate named Lau Hin-ming, who was ahead of the Democratic Party and Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) candidates. Lau used the "Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times" slogan in his electoral messages, but was eventually found to be an member of an executive committee belonging to the Federation of The Youth Power of Kwai Tsing, a sub-group of the pro-Beijing Federation of New Territories Youth.
Some voters were found to have no knowledge about the candidates that they have nominated. For example, in the Lei Cheng Uk constituency, candidate Lam Ho-nam was ahead of Kong Kwai-sang from the pro-democratic Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL) and Chan Keng-chau from the pro-Beijing Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA). However, a voter who nominated Lam claimed that he had never actually intended to nominate him. Instead, he signed an endorsement for Chan Keng-chau because he was a member of the Lei Cheng Uk Resident Association, while Chan has been the chairman of the association. Pro-democracy media sources allege that Chan had transferred the nomination to Lam, in the hope of decreasing the votes of Kong Kwai-sang, though no substantial proof was supplemented to this claim.
Jinan University's alleged misuse of personal information[edit source | edit]
Apple Daily reported that they had received complaints from the students of Jinan University, who were requested by academic staff and counsellors to vote for pro-Beijing candidates, with them being promised free transportation if they do so. University staff members were able to locate the constituencies in which the students resided.
Alleged illegal transportation for voters[edit source | edit]
Apple Daily also reported that Wong Yiu-chung, a pro-Beijing candidate from the BPA who was contesting the election for the Wah Lai constituency, had offered free coach rides to voters as an incentive to vote for him. The coaches were adorned with posters of Wong, and potentially constitutes an illegal election-related expense.
Stand News reported that in the Fu Tai constituency, there were alleged voluntary coach services offered to elderly voters by pro-Beijing parties. Some voters reported the services were offered by Manwell Chan, a pro-Beijing Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) candidate, and also stated that they were asked to vote for Chan in exchange for said ride, though no tangible proof could be found to support this claim .
Results[edit source | edit]
The elections to the District Councils of Hong Kong were held during the weekend, in which for the first time since the protests begun, no outbreaks of violence were reported. As the District Councils are the only governmental body chosen by full universal suffrage, the election was widely described as a proxy referendum over the protest movement's demands. 2.94 million out of 4.13 million registered voters have turned out to vote, including many first-time voters, representing a record turnout of over 71 per cent. The turnout was significant and some voters waited in line for more than an hour to cast their votes.
More than 250 seats were flipped as the pro-democrats achieved their biggest landslide victory in Hong Kong's history, taking control of 17 of the 18 District Councils of Hong Kong, tripling their number of seats from about 124 to around 388, and have also gained the majority to capture 117 seats in the District Council subsectors of the next Election Committee, which is vested with the power to elect the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. The pro-democracy camp's upset victory led to speculation of the validity regarding support of a silent majority of voters.
Parties belonging to the pro-Beijing camp and independents won 62 seats in the District Councils, with a loss of 242 seats. The main pro-Beijing party Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) received its largest defeat in history, losing nearly a hundred seats, while Regina Ip's New People's Party was completely removed from power, losing all of their representation in the District Councils. While DAB chairwoman Starry Lee narrowly managed to fend off her main pro-democracy challenger Leung Kwok-hung, her nine fellow pro-Beijing legislators, such as Junius Ho, Horace Cheung, Michael Tien, Holden Chow, Lau Kwok-fan, Luk Chung-hung and Alice Mak suffered defeats in their constituencies.
Many pro-democrats who actively participated in the protests also scored victories. Jimmy Sham, the convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, which organised June's million-strong peaceful marches, won a seat in Lek Yuen. Andrew Chiu of the Democratic Party, was re-elected in Tai Koo Shing West, while Jocelyn Chau, aged 23, who was also arrested on the campaign trail, defeated long-time pro-Beijing incumbent Hui Ching-on in City Garden. Richar Chan, dubbed as "airport uncle" by the prress, who was pepper-sprayed in the face by riot police during the election rally held on 2 November and later arrested while campaigning, won his seat in the Lam Tsuen Valley constituency in Tai Po.
Other prominent pro-democratic activists, including Tommy Cheung Sau-yin, a former student leader who was among the nine Occupy activists convicted for public nuisance earlier this year for his part in the 2014 Umbrella Revolution, defeated incumbent Wilson Wong Wai-shun, who was seen with the attackers in Yuen Lung during the mob attack on 21 July. Another former student leader Lester Shum, known for his involvements in the 2014 Umbrella Revolution, won in the Hoi Bun constituency in Tsuen Wan. Kelvin Lam, Joshua Wong's last-minute substitute after he was barred from running, won the seat of South Horizons West.
Overview of outcome[edit source | edit]
Change in composition:
Results by district[edit source | edit]
|class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Democratic Party (Hong Kong)/meta/color; width:30px;"| DP||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Civic Party/meta/color; width:30px;"| Civ||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong/meta/color; width:30px;"| DAB||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Neo Democrats/meta/color; width:30px;"| ND||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood/meta/color; width:30px;"|ADPL||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Labour Party (Hong Kong)/meta/color; width:30px;"| Lab||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions/meta/color; width:30px;"| FTU||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Liberal Party (Hong Kong)/meta/color; width:30px;"| Lib||Others||Pro-dem||Pro-Beijing||Ex-officio||Composition||Details|
|Central & Western||Pro-Beijing||Tied||Pro-democracy||7||1||7||14||1||N/A||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Wan Chai||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||1||12||9||4||N/A||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Yau Tsim Mong||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||4||1||1||14||17||3||N/A||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Sham Shui Po||NOC||Pro-democracy||2||4||2||11||6||22||2||N/A||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Kowloon City||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||10||4||1||10||15||10||N/A||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Wong Tai Sin||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||6||2||3||14||25||0||N/A||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Kwun Tong||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||9||4||6||1||20||28||12||N/A||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Tsuen Wan||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||3||3||2||1||1||9||16||2||2||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Tuen Mun||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||8||1||5||2||1||15||28||3||1||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Yuen Long||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||7||32||33||6||6||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Tai Po||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||4||15||19||0||2||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Sai Kung||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||9||1||19||26||3||2||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Sha Tin||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||6||7||1||1||1||25||40||1||1||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|Kwai Tsing||Pro-Beijing||Pro-democracy||12||3||3||13||27||4||1||Template:Composition bar/advanced||Details|
|TOTAL||style="background:Template:Democratic Party (Hong Kong)/meta/color; width:30px;"| 91||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Civic Party/meta/color; width:30px;"| 32||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong/meta/color; width:30px;"| 21||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Neo Democrats/meta/color; width:30px;"| 19||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood/meta/color; width:30px;"| 19||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Labour Party (Hong Kong)/meta/color; width:30px;"| 7||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions/meta/color; width:30px;"| 5||class="unsortable" style="background:Template:Liberal Party (Hong Kong)/meta/color; width:30px;"| 5||253||388||62||27||Template:Composition bar/advanced|
Vote summary[edit source | edit]
Seat summary[edit source | edit]
Aftermath[edit source | edit]
Following the publication of the election results, DAB chairwoman Starry Lee submitted her resignation in light of the election results, but her resignation offer was rejected by the DAB's Central Committee, which stated they wanted Lee to stay and lead the party forward to face the coming challenges ahead of them. HKFTU legislator Alice Mak, who was unseated in her Wai Ying constituency, insisted that their electoral hammering was not their fault, instead blaming the "overall political environment". FTU president Ng Chau-pei addressed the results by insisting the election was not a referendum on the government's strategy of "stopping violence".
Chinese state media outlets tried to downplay the outcome of district elections in Hong Kong, which saw a landslide victory of the pro-democracy camp. According to BBC, the state media's reaction ranged from making no reference whatsoever to the election results to overt claims that "electoral tampering" had occurred. The daily news program of state broadcaster CCTV, Xinwen Lianbo, remained silent on the results, accusing the US of electoral interference. The English-language version of the China Daily newspaper announced that the elections were over, but did not reference the victory of the pro-democracy camp.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that her government would "listen humbly" and "seriously reflect" on views expressed at the election and would set up an independent review committee to look at cause of social unrest, modelling on Britain's response to the 2011 Tottenham riots. To some, this fell short of the protesters' demand on an independent commission of inquiry. Shortly after the election, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act which was previously passed overwhelmingly in the United States Congress into law. In a joint statement by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, the co-sponsor of the bill, Jim Risch, Ben Cardin and Bob Menendez, it states that "following last weekend's historic elections in Hong Kong that included record turnout, this new law could not be more timely in showing strong US support for Hong Kongers' long-cherished freedoms."
The State Council's removal, on 4 January 2020, of Wang Zhimin from his post as Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong was widely seen as a response to his failure to advise the central government accurately about the vulnerability of pro-Beijing candidates at the election.
References[edit source | edit]
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2019 Hong Kong local elections.|
- 2019 District Council Ordinary Election Official Website
- District Councils' Website
- Electoral Affairs Commission Official Website