Pan-democrats suffered a setback in the Legislative Council by-elections as they managed to retain only two of the four seats in the Sunday contest, dashing their hopes for recapturing veto power in the legislature.
The opposition camp’s big nasty surprise came from the Kowloon West geographical constituency, with Edward Yiu Chung-yim losing to his main pro-establishment rival, Vincent Cheng Wing-shun.
In the other lost battle, a result that was not entirely unexpected, Paul Zimmerman failed to deliver to the opposition bloc the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency.
According to the results announced Monday, pro-democracy candidates prevailed only in two geographical constituencies — Hong Kong Island and New Territories East.
In the keenly watched Kowloon West battle, Yiu found himself defeated by a narrow margin. Shocked at the outcome, the candidate demanded a recount, after which authorities declared that that Yiu had won 2,419 fewer valid votes than his main rival Cheng.
Yiu secured 105,060 votes, while Cheng — who belongs to the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) party — received 107,479 ballots in his favor.
Kowloon West and New Territories East were among the seats that opposition groups had held earlier before two “localist” members were disqualified in November 2016 for faulty oath-taking after the 2016 Legco polls.
The opposition camp had been expecting to regain at least three, if not all, of the four seats that were up for grabs in Sunday’s by-elections, but got past the winning line in just two contests.
The candidates who succeeded were Au Nok-hin, who won the Hong Kong Island seat, and Gary Fan Kwok-wai, who emerged victorious in New Territories East.
In the Hong Kong Island constituency, Au secured 137,181 votes, while his main rival Judy Chan Ka-pui of New People’s Party received 127,634 votes, giving Au a victory margin of nearly 10,000.
Au contested the seat after Demosisto’s Agnes Chow Ting was barred in January from the by-election on the grounds that her party advocates self-determination for Hong Kong.
In the New Territories East fight, Neo Democrats’ candidate Fan who scooped up 183,762 votes, while main rival Bill Tang Ka-piu, who ran under the banners of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and DAB, got 152,904 votes.
As for the other seat that was up for grabs on Sunday, the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape functional constituency, pro-Beijing candidate Tse Wai-chuen, who had in the past represented the sector in Legco, was declared the winner, receiving 2,929 votes and beating the pan-democrat backed Zimmerman, who secured 2,345 ballots.
Losing two out of the four seats in the by-elections means the pro-democracy camp will continue to have less power in Legco, noted Charles Mok Nai-kwong, a lawmaker representing the information technology functional constituency.
Mok, who is convenor of the pan-democratic camp, said the opposition groups will need to plan their strategies more carefully in future.
Following Sunday’s vote, the pan-democrats remain outnumbered by the pro-establishment camp in the Legco in the geographical as well as functional constituencies.
That means that the opposition lawmakers won’t be able to veto any government proposals or amendments in the House, which will be good news for Beijing and its proxies in Hong Kong.
In the Sunday polls, the overall turnout for the geographical constituencies was 43 percent, while that for the functional constituency stood at 70 percent.
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