Banners for candidates running for district council elections in Hong Kong this weekend. Credit Bobby Yip/Reuters

HONG KONG â?? Voters right here went to the polls on Sunday, choosing hundreds of neighborhood representatives in the very first election because concern about Chinaâ??s influence over the electoral process set off immense sit-in protests last year.

Turnout for the election of 363 district councilors, who serve 4-year terms, was larger than in prior contests in 2011 and 2007, with about 47 percent of eligible voters casting ballots, the government reported. An added 68 seats had been uncontested.

The benefits have been mixed, as many participants in last yearâ??s pro-democracy â??Umbrella Movementâ? won seats in some regions, and supporters of closer ties with the central government in Beijing gained ground in other individuals.

District-level lawmakers, who on typical serve constituencies of fewer than 20,000 folks, are a lot more focused on day-to-day livelihood concerns, like pushing for far better bus service and securing funds for improvements and repairs to public facilities such as roads, parks and street indicators.

But the tension over final yearâ??s protests, identified as Occupy Central, which shut down some key thoroughfares in Hong Kong for far more than two months, was evident in the election on Sunday as effectively. In 1 densely populated region in Hong Kongâ??s New Territories characterized by towering apartment blocks, pro-Beijing and pro-democracy, or pan-democratic, constituencies have been divided by one particular street.

On one particular side, dominated by private apartment blocks constructed over the Po Lam subway station, 1 voter, who would give only his final name, Law, said he had cast his ballot for a pan-democratic candidate because he â??hates the Communist Celebration.â? Across the street, the leading two vote-getters in a district centered on a publicly funded housing project represented pro-Beijing parties. There, the incumbent, Alfred Au Ning-fat, was re-elected.

Next year, voters will elect people to Hong Kongâ??s 70-member Legislative Council, the cityâ??s best lawmaking body. In June, the legislature rejected a voting strategy backed by the Beijing government that would have allowed the cityâ??s a lot more than three million eligible voters to directly elect Hong Kongâ??s best official, the chief executive. That strategy, which permitted only candidates screened by a committee dominated by pro-Beijing loyalists to seem on the ballot, set off the Occupy Central movement final year.

In 2017, Hong Kong will hold elections for the chief executive. That contest will be decided by a 1,200-member unelected committee dominated by pro-Beijing groups like tycoons, farmers and fishermen, pro-Communist labor organizations and industry groups.


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