Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
HONG KONG (AP) — Election results released Monday gave an edge to the pro-China faction in Hong Kong’s legislature, where power is split between those aligned with Beijing and those who favor further democratic reforms. The pro-democratic parties, however, retained enough of a majority to veto any proposed changes to the former British colony’s constitution.
Many expected that Hong Kong’s broad array of pro-democracy parties would make big gains with support from people increasingly frustrated with the semiautonomous Chinese city’s new Beijing-backed leader over a wide range of issues. But the gains failed to materialize because the pro-democracy camp, which has been divided by feuds and rivalries, failed to mount a unified strategy against their pro-Beijing rivals.
In Sunday’s election, 40 of the 70 seats on the Hong Kong Legislative Council were decided by voters, and those were split fairly evenly between the two sides, according to results released by election officials. Pro-democratic candidates won 21 seats — 18 seats in local districts and three more so-called “super seats” open to nearly all voters city wide. Pro-Beijing rivals won 19 seats — 17 local seats and two super seats.
But another 30 seats on the council were chosen by members of business and special interest groups known as “functional constituencies,” most of which are dominated by pro-Beijing figures. Results showed that pro-democracy candidates won only six of those seats, news reports said.
Still, pro-democracy candidates will retain 27 of the 70 seats, more than the minimum 24 needed for veto power on constitutional issues, the most contentious of which is the eventual introduction of full democracy. Beijing has pledged to allow Hong Kong residents to choose their leader by 2017 and all lawmakers by 2020, although no roadmap has yet been laid out. The newly elected lawmakers will help set up those elections.
Disappointed supporters blamed a splintering of the many parties that comprise the pro-democracy camp for the lack of a strategy against their pro-Beijing rivals, who had more resources to use Hong Kong’s complex electoral system to their advantage.
Albert Ho, chairman of the main Democratic Party, apologized and resigned.
“Our party will certainly learn from this failure,” he said. “We’ll have a deep reflection and then work out our plan for reform in the future.”
The election drew a strong turnout, with 53 percent of the territory’s 3.5 million registered voters casting ballots, 8 percentage points higher than in the last election in 2008. That shows a strong desire for political reform among residents in the semiautonomous region, as well as discontent with the city’s Beijing-backed leader, analysts said.
“The higher voter turnout reflects the people’s frustrations with the C.Y. Leung administration,” said Willy Lam, a professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong. The high turnout reflects public unease over the government’s aborted plan to introduce Chinese patriotism classes that many feared would be a form of brainwashing, Lam said.
The dispute “galvanized ordinary people to take part in politics, and this is something which the C.Y. Leung administration has to bear in mind because now more people are getting educated and politicized,” he said.
Leung Chun-ying, also known as C.Y. Leung, became Hong Kong’s leader, or chief executive, in July after being picked by an elite pro-Beijing committee.
Hong Kong, a freewheeling Asian financial center, was handed back to China in 1997 after a century of British rule, but it was granted a high degree of autonomy and allowed to keep its separate political system.
Sunday’s vote was the first in which the public had a say in more than half of who was elected. Previously, the Legislative Council had 60 seats evenly split between publicly elected lawmakers and functional constituencies. The 10 new seats added this year are part of political reforms introduced in line with provisions in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution as a step toward full democracy.
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Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)