Hong Kong and Chinese officials and lawmakers are considering how to deal with a new political reality in which almost 800,000 Hong Kong residents made an unprecedented show of support for greater democracy by participating in an unofficial referendum. Occupy Central With Love and Peace, a movement of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists who organized the 10-day referendum that ended Sunday, said 792,000 citizens cast valid ballots. The vast majority of them used Internet and mobile phone, though several thousand cast paper ballots at polling stations. Hong Kong had approximately 3.5 million regisered voters in 2012, according to The Guardian.
In another pro-democracy demonstration, more than 100,000 people joined an annual July 1 march through Hong Kong’s streets on Tuesday to call for the ability to freely choose the territory’s next leader, or chief executive. Police arrested at least 500 protesters on charges of unlawful assembly for holding a sit-in on a street next to the government headquarters after the march.
In the first-of-its-kind referendum, Occupy Central asked residents whether they supported one of three proposed electoral reforms that would allow the public to nominate candidates for the city’s next leadership election in 2017.
Voters also were asked whether Hong Kong’s 70-seat Legislative Council, or LegCo, should veto any government plan that does not satisfy “international standards allowing genuine choices by electors.”