Polling stations open in Hong Kong to elect new legislators

MADRID, Dec 19 (.) –

The polling stations opened this Sunday at 8.30 (local time) in Hong Kong to elect new legislators in the first elections that the island will have since a reform of the electoral system orchestrated this year by Beijing to complicate the access of the pro-democratic opposition to the Parliament and in which a large abstention is expected in the form of protest.

“I am sure that there will be a peaceful and orderly election,” said former Hong Kong security chief Lai Tung-kwok, according to information collected by the local newspaper ‘South China Morning Post’.

The Hong Kong population has been called to the polls in the first elections to the Legislative Council since the electoral reform was approved last May. Under the new regulations, only those classified as “true patriots” will be able to stand for election. For opponents and critical voices, the new measure seeks to increase the power of the central government over the region and undermines the freedoms and rights of the population.

Police Commissioner Raymond Siu Chak-yee has urged the population not to “destroy” the elections: “there will be arrests as soon as possible if we discover that someone is trying to destroy or obstruct the electoral process.”

According to a survey by the Hong Kong Institute for Public Opinion Research (HKPORI), only 51% of respondents intend to vote. A low figure considering that in the last legislative elections of 2016 more than 80% of voters went to the polls.

Only three of the 153 candidates who have run identify themselves as close to the opposition pro-democracy movement. The former British colony, returned to China in 1997 by the United Kingdom, has never been truly democratic and its electoral system has always been fundamentally favorable to Beijing, as reported by ‘The China Morning Post’.

Dozens of Hong Kong activists have called from abroad to boycott the elections, which they consider to be designed “for patriots only” under the new electoral law of the Chinese special administrative region.

Thus, they have regretted that the new legislation only allows the election of a score of seats directly, although all candidates must first demonstrate their political loyalty and patriotism.

Most activists have been jailed or are banned from running for office. Now, many of them advocate boycotting the process and ask residents not to go to the polls.

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