HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong voters cast ballots in legislative elections Sunday that will help determine the eventual shape of the full democracy that Beijing has promised the former British colony.
The amount of support voters give to pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps will indicate the level of desire for political reform in Hong Kong.
Beijing has pledged to allow Hong Kong’s residents to choose their leader by 2017 and all lawmakers by 2020, but no roadmap has been laid out. Lawmakers elected in Sunday’s polls will help shape the arrangements for those future elections.
Voters were choosing 40 representatives, while 30 others are chosen by business and special interest groups. It’s the first time the public is selecting more than half the seats. In previous contests, it was evenly split, but 10 new seats have been added this time. They include five so-called "super seats" that about 3.2 million registered voters can choose.
Election results are expected Monday.
Pro-Beijing candidates may face a tough fight in light of increasingly strained ties between the Asian financial center and mainland China, which regained control of Hong Kong in 1997 after more than a century of British colonial rule.
Hong Kongers have grown increasingly wary of Beijing’s influence. On Saturday, Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader, Leung Chun-ying, was forced to back down from plans that would have required students to take Chinese patriotism classes, after a week of protests by thousands sparked by fears it was a form of brainwashing.
Residents have also been perturbed by a spate of corruption cases, widening inequality and the growing influx of wealthy mainland Chinese, whom they blame for driving up prices by buying up luxury goods and apartments.
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