What effect will the Hong Kong local elections have on the situation there?
Elections were held to decide the make up of the District Councils of Hong Kong on the 24th November 2019. The elections have continued despite the situation in the city in recent months, with violent protests disrupting life in the special administrative region of China. The run up to the election has been directly affected by the violence surrounding the protests, as some candidates were physically attacked while canvassing in the run up to the elections. But following the elections what effect will they have on the situation in Hong Kong? Can they help resolve the protests or at least the violence surrounding them?
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No effect, they are just local elections
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Despite an overwhelming support for democracy or independence at a local level the elections cannot lead to change in the region, nothing can happen as a result of these elections as Hong Kong is still part of China. Hong Kong was stolen from China by the British Empire, but Hong Kong was given back to China in 1997 and remains a special administrative region of China until 2047, when it will fall under direct leadership from the Chinese government, regardless of who is in power locally. Any attempt to damage Hong Kong, either its property, stability or economy will ultimately remain just that and these protests will not bring about change in China as they are not even a popular movement outside of that very small area of Hong Kong.
Despite pre-election gerrymandering concerns with the addition of 21 extra district council seats being created in the run up to the elections, pro-democracy parties in Hong Kong won the vast majority of the 452 seats. All pro-Beijing parties lost seats with the DAB (Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong) seeing the largest loses, losing 96 district council seats, with many outspoken pro-Beijing candidates failing to be re-elected. Many Hongkongers saw this election as a de-facto referendum, and the historic 71.2% voter turnout showed overwhelming support for the protest movement and a pro-democracy future in Hong Kong.
The local elections in Hong Kong are to decide District Council seats and not a national government election or a democratic referendum, so their influence on the protest movement is very limited. Furthermore pro-government (or pro-Beijing) local candidates are better funded and connected meaning they will occupy the majority of seats at a local level as well as in the Legislative Council. Understandably local elections are fought on local issues, so it is less likely that the protest movement will be effected by the elections in any way and more a case of the elections may have been somewhat effected by the overspill of violence from the protests.