Pan-democrats roundly defeated a Beijing-backed election reform bill Thursday, dashing plans for direct election of Hong Kong’s next leader by popular vote in 2017.
The vote came after just 10 hours of deliberations in a widely expected result marred by a walkout by a group of pro-reform lawmakers.
All 27-pan-democrats voted against the measure as expected with a 28th “no” vote coming from a pro-establishment lawmaker.
Eight voted in favor of the bill and a more lopsided result was sealed when 33 reform supporters walked off the chamber.
Their vote, however, would have still fallen short of the number needed to pass the bill.
“This veto has helped Hong Kong people send a clear message to Beijing… that we want a genuine choice, a real election,” pan-democrat lawmaker Alan Leong was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“This is not the end of the democratic movement,” he said. “This is a new beginning.”
Outside the legislature, pro-democracy protesters broke into cheers and clapped wildly after the result, according to Reuters.
“It’s a victory of democracy and the people,” said a 75-year-old pro-democracy protester surnamed Wong, who struggled to hold back his tears.
Meanwhile, about 500 pro-Beijing supporters outside the chamber staged a minute’s silence then began chanting: “Vote them down in 2016!” calling for democratic lawmakers to be kicked out of the legislature in a citywide election next year.
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