On Tuesday, Lo Kin-hei, the leader of Hong Kong’s main pro-democracy party, the Democratic Party, he said that the latter will not be able to run in next December’s local elections, for the first time since it was founded in 1994. Lo Kin-hei said that none of the candidates had received enough support to participate in the elections under the new electoral rules introduced by the Chinese government, which in recent years has enormously limited political and civil rights in the territory of Hong Kong.
The December elections are local, different from the general elections of the Hong Kong parliament, and serve to renew the councilors of the 18 districts into which the territory of Hong Kong, a Chinese administrative region, is divided. It’s prime since the imposition, in 2019, of the controversial national security law, with which China implemented a progressive repression of dissent in the Hong Kong region after huge and participatory pro-democracy protests that continued for about a year. In the last elections, which were held in 2019, the Democratic Party achieved a clear victory. Councilors are one of the last bodies of political representation directly elected by citizens in Hong Kong.
The new rules introduced by the Chinese government provide that in order to compete in the elections, each candidate must obtain the approval of at least nine members of the local electoral committees, appointed by the Chinese government and therefore made up largely of officials loyal to the regime. The process of nominating candidates is quite long, it lasts approx two weeksand the criteria with which candidates are deemed eligible to run in elections are very rigid, even for parties that are formally more aligned with the positions of the Chinese government.
Zheng Yanxiong, director of the Chinese central government liaison office in Hong Kong, he said that those who are “not patriots” will not be allowed to participate in the next elections.
Councilors elected in Hong Kong local elections normally deal with very technical issues, such as construction projects or the management of public facilities, and their election has so far not attracted much attention in the international press. Things changed just after the last elections, in 2019.
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