Hong Kong’s democratic opposition failed to win back a crucial legislative council seat in an election on Sunday that would have restored some of its veto power at a time when the China-ruled city’s freedoms are under strain. The democratic camp’s main candidate, Lee Cheuk-yan, lost to Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan, a pro-Beijing candidate backed by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), by around 13,000 votes, or about 6 percent of the total. Another democrat, Frederick Fung, who ran as an independent after a row with the opposition camp, split the vote to the benefit of the pro-establishment DAB.
With this loss, Hong Kong’s 70-seat legislature becomes further dominated by pro-Beijing allies.
The city’s opposition had also squandered an earlier chance to regain their veto power, garnering only two of four seats in a March by-election and leaving them one seat short of blocking most bills in the 70-seat chamber.
After 156 years of British colonial rule, Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula guaranteeing it a high degree of autonomy and the promise of eventual universal suffrage.