Hong Kong elections seen as win for pro-democracy candidates after massive turnout

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Anti-government protestors prevailed on Sunday after polls closed in Hong Kong and pro-democracy candidates clinched nearly half of the seats on the ballot.

So far, pro-democracy candidates have won 269 out of 452 seats in 18 district council races, while pro-Beijing forces, who previously held 73 percent of the seats, have only won 30. Voters came out in droves — with a 71 percent turnout — up from 47 percent four years ago in the same elections, according to the Electoral Affairs Commission.

“This is political annihilation for Beijing and it’s going to have consequences that are going to reverberate not just in Hong Kong itself, but perhaps in China as well,” Asia analyst and foreign affairs journalist Gordon Chang said on Fox News’ “America’s News HQ” Sunday.

The history-making victory for pro-democracy candidates in the elections marked a win in what has largely been seen as a referendum on the protest movement and China’s response to it.

Months of violent protests ravaged the city as demonstrators smashed storefronts of pro-nationalist businesses, lit toll booths on fire, shut down a major tunnel and engaged in battles with police, countering tear gas and water cannons with torrents of gasoline bombs, which resulted in more than 5,000 arrests.

Protests first erupted this past June after the government introduced an extradition bill that would send criminal suspects for trials to mainland China. That bill has now been abandoned, but the movement since expanded to include demands for democratic elections for the city’s leader and legislature, and an independent probe into alleged police brutality in suppressing the protests.

Pro-Beijing leaders said they hoped the violence would detract from the democracy cause but voting remained peaceful amid tight security at the ballot boxes and long wrap-around lines at polling stations. – READ MORE

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