Hong Kong voters took to the polls yesterday, in a by-election triggered by the resignation of five lawmakers in January. The vote is viewed by many as a symbolic gesture in Hong Kong's ongoing struggle with the Chinese Regime for full democracy in the territory.
Hong Kong held citywide by-elections on Sunday (May 17). Pro-democracy lawmakers hail it as a ‘referendum on electoral reform.’
Since Hong Kong passed from British to Chinese rule in 1997, the colony has been governed under a watered down version of democracy. Hong Kong citizens only elect half of the lawmakers in Hong Kong’s 60-seat legislature. The other half are elected by ‘special interest groups,’ such as business organizations, many of whom are sympathetic to the the Chinese Communist Party. And the Chief Executive is appointed by an election committee—not by the public.
Democrats in Hong Kong have been pushing the Chinese Regime to allow full democracy in Hong Kong. Five lawmakers from the Legislative Council who resigned on January 26th triggered this ballot. They hope it will reinvigorate public debate over constitutional reform.
[Tania Chan, Election Candidate]:
"We hope that we will start, will trigger a by-election and allow the people to express their views toward out constitutional reform. And that is the most important thing that will affect our future, especially the next generation."
Chinese authorities have called the referendum plan a "blatant challenge" to their authority. They say they will not allow Hong Kong’s Chief Executive to be elected by the people until 2017, while the Democrats want full democracy in 2012.
Still some Hong Kong citizens are showing up to vote, determined to have their voice heard.
[Miss Leung, Voter]:
"I want to express my opinion like other citizens. My wish is for Hong Kong to have more freedom."
The five lawmakers who resigned are expected to be re-elected.