Record numbers of people voted on Sunday in Hong Kong district council elections viewed as a test of support for chief executive Carrie Lam following six months of often violent pro-democracy protests that have convulsed the Chinese-ruled city.
Government data showed more than 2.6 million people had voted by 7.30 p.m., a turnout rate of 63%, with three hours left until polling stations closed - a showing that appeared to have been encouraged by the political turmoil. About 1.47 million voted in the last district elections four years ago.
First results should start trickling in before midnight.
The voter numbers showed people’s determination, said one voter named Tsz, 30, who works in the service industry.
“The high turnout rate...definitely reflects Hong Kong people’s hope for genuine universal suffrage,” he said.
Casting her ballot, the Beijing-backed Lam pledged that her government would listen “more intensively” to the views of district councils.
“I hope this kind of stability and calm is not only for today’s election, but to show that everyone does not want Hong Kong to fall into a chaotic situation again,” Lam said.
The protests started over a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial but rapidly evolved into calls for full democracy, posing the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.