The Hong Kong government’s controversial Beijing-backed election reforms were defeated in the legislature Thursday but the crucial vote came to a confusing anticlimax as pro-establishment lawmakers accidentally failed to vote for it. After a lengthy debate, 28 lawmakers voted against the proposals, which sparked huge street protests in the southern Chinese city last year. Eight others voted in favor. However, in a bizarre scene moments before the vote took place, most of the pro-establishment lawmakers walked out of the legislature chamber and ended up not casting their votes.
Lawmaker Jeffrey Lam later blamed a “communication gap,” explaining that they were waiting for a fellow lawmaker who was ill to return to the chamber. They left even after their request for a 15-minute break was rejected by the legislature president.
The government needed at least 47 of the 70 lawmakers to vote in favor of the proposals.