On Sunday, Dec. 19, Hong Kongers held legislative elections. Still, only 30.2% of the electorate turned out to vote, revealing the disbelief of the population in the election process organized by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after it eliminated opposition candidates.
The turnout in Hong Kong’s recent elections was the lowest in its history since the British handed over the city to Beijing in 1997 in exchange for guaranteed democratic independence. CNBC reported, only one-third of registered voters or about 1,350,680 people cast ballots on Dec. 19, nearly half of the 2016 legislative elections,
The election process was harshly criticized by Hong Kongers and Human Rights organizations concerned about the CCP’s encroachment on the semi-autonomous city.
The international community understood the low turnout as an absolute rejection by the citizens of the CCP, which has been implementing a series of regulations to break with the certain autonomy enjoyed by the city during the last years in terms of freedom and democracy.
This Sunday’s elections should have been held 18 months ago. But the communist leaders at that time suspended them, alleging that holding them would imply a risk for the population, taking into account the pandemic scenario, even though the CCP reported almost no contagions or deaths at that time.
From that moment until now, the CCP has been in charge of eliminating any form of opposition, imprisoning its leaders by inventing any cause, and developing legislation that curtails oppression of the communist regime and removes the possibility of democratic participation of the opponents.
“For the people of Hong Kong there is little choice now but to accept illegitimate elections. The parliament is going to be a rubber stamp for Beijing and this election has no democratic element,” former lawmaker Ted Hui said from exile, The Guardian reported.
Previously, voters could directly elect 40 representatives to the 70-seat legislative council, but after the CCP-imposed changes, they can now only decide on 20 seats for the expanded 90-seat assembly.
Most controversially, all candidates must go through a process of approval by the CCP to determine whether they can be considered “patriots.” If not, they are excluded from participating.
As a result, all pro-democracy candidates and critics of the communist system have not run. As a result, candidates loyal to the CCP won a landslide victory.
Moreover, during the last year and a half of pandemic in Hong Kong, with almost 8 million inhabitants, communism managed to eradicate the pro-democracy movement by imprisoning, silencing, or forcing its leaders into exile abroad, under the National Security Law imposed in 2020.
From the controversial law imposed by the CCP, the central government in Beijing was authorized to establish a national security office in Hong Kong, whose task is to “confront subversion of state power, terrorism, separatism and conspiracies with foreign forces.”
The scope of these tasks is so abstract that it is ultimately up to the authorities to subjectively determine at their whim what failure to comply with these matters entails. Thus, they have managed to position any dissident voice in illegality during the last few months, silencing the opposition.
The NGO Hong Kong Watch issued a strong statement entitled “Hong Kong’s sham elections discredited by absence of opposition,” criticizing the elections and calling them “a sham” in the city’s post-democracy era.