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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "elections"

In Tense Exchange, Trump and Macron Put Forth Dueling Visions for NATO

LONDON — A once-cordial relationship between President Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France devolved in a dramatic fashion on Tuesday, as the two leaders publicly sparred over their approach to containing the threat of terrorism and a shared vision for the future of NATO, a 70-year-old alliance facing existential threats on multiple fronts.

In a lengthy appearance before reporters, the president met a cool reception from Mr. Macron, who earlier in the day Mr. Trump derided as “very insulting” for his recent remarks on the “brain death” of the alliance. When asked to address his earlier comments on the French leader, Mr. Trump, a leader averse to face-to-face confrontation, initially demurred, but Mr. Macron was direct.

“My statement created some reactions,” Mr. Macron said. “I do stand by it.”

What followed was an extended, terse back-and-forth over trade, immigration, and Mr. Trump’s relationship with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Mr. Trump’s interactions with the Turkish president are also sure to be closely watched. Mr. Erdogan, who has already upset NATO allies by purchasing a sophisticated Russian antiaircraft missile system, the S-400, is now threatening to oppose NATO’s plans to update the defense of Poland and the Baltic countries if the alliance does not join him in labeling some Kurdish groups as terrorists.

”Who is the enemy today?” Mr. Macron asked. “And let’s be clear and work together on that.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_164329611_60662a0d-f574-45d5-b95b-60cda22a7fa4-articleLarge In Tense Exchange, Trump and Macron Put Forth Dueling Visions for NATO United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States North Atlantic Treaty Organization Great Britain elections Defense and Military Forces

Mr. Trump, left, with Turkish president Recep Tayypip Erdogan during a visit to the White House in November.Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The meeting continued to devolve as the two discussed the containment of ISIS fighters in Syria. Hunched forward, Mr. Trump tried to jokingly offer captive fighters to the French.

“Would you like some nice ISIS fighters?” Mr. Trump said.

“Let’s be serious,” a stone-faced Mr. Macron replied. Mr. Macron said that he and Mr. Trump “don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table.”

“When I look at Turkey, they are fighting against those who fight with us,” he added, referring to Kurdish fighters.

The contentious tone was baked into the day’s proceedings. Hours earlier, in a meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, Mr. Trump said President Emmanuel Macron of France had been “very insulting” to the alliance.

Mr. Macron had suggested that Europe could no longer assume unwavering support from the United States. “I think nobody needs it more than France,” Mr. Trump said of the alliance, “and that’s why I think when France makes a statement like they made about NATO, that’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.”

Mr. Trump’s visit comes as leaders across Europe struggle to balance the shared goal of combating the rising influence of global adversaries — China will be a focus — and containing other unpredictable members, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said that he was considering delaying reaching a deal in his protracted and economically damaging trade war with China until after the 2020 election.

“In some ways I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal,” Mr. Trump said, adding that he had “no deadline” for reaching an accord.

Mr. Trump’s defense of NATO against Mr. Macron’s comments was something of a role reversal for the two leaders. In the past, Mr. Trump has been so disruptive at NATO meetings that he triggered an emergency session. He has accused other member countries of shortchanging the United States on military spending, and he has questioned whether the alliance still served a purpose.

A goal of the current meeting was to avoid any formal disruptions. This time, however, it was Mr. Macron’s comments that were viewed as unhelpful to the alliance.

Mr. Trump called the remarks a “very, very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries” and said that NATO served a “great purpose.”

Heather A. Conley, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Mr. Macron saw an opportunity to assert French leadership in Europe, with Britain moving toward leaving the European Union and the German government enmeshed in its own political troubles.

“President Macron is seizing that moment, seeking to be disruptive in his own way, and so we will see how that works,” she said.

In the background of these competing global interests is Mr. Trump’s possible impeachment. On Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee is set to question legal experts about whether there are grounds to impeach Mr. Trump for pressuring Ukraine to take actions that could help him in the 2020 election.

That threatens to throw off Mr. Trump’s focus and overshadow a victorious message that administration officials brought along with them to Britain: Last week, officials told reporters that the president had been “spectacularly successful” in urging allies to increase their military spending by more than $100 billion.

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump spoke to reporters for 52 minutes, at times turning his attention back to domestic issues. He castigated the impeachment effort led by Democrats as “unpatriotic” and again defended his behavior during a July call with the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky — an interaction that formed the basis for the inquiry.

“I did nothing wrong,” Mr. Trump said of the impeachment inquiry during a bilateral meeting with Mr. Stoltenberg, noting that he was not open to a censure from Congress, either. “You don’t censure somebody when they did nothing wrong.”

Mr. Trump’s morning comments set a tense backdrop for his meeting on Tuesday afternoon with Mr. Macron, who has shifted from a charm offensive with Mr. Trump to a more confrontational approach.

Experts in the region said they were watching to see whether Mr. Macron and Mr. Trump could agree on a path forward for NATO. “We need U.S. leadership in order to push any number of things on the NATO agenda, particularly in tougher areas like nuclear modernization or arms control,” Ms. Conley said.

Mr. Trump will also meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and host a private fund-raising round table with supporters, which Trump campaign officials say will raise $3 million.

Notably absent from the president’s schedule is a one-on-one meeting with the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, who is campaigning ahead of a Dec. 12 election and has been desperate to keep Mr. Trump at arm’s length. Mr. Johnson is managing the political fallout from a terrorist attack on Friday in central London, where a lone extremist fatally stabbed two people and wounded three others.

Mr. Johnson will host several leaders, including the president, in a group reception at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday evening, before the Trumps head to Buckingham Palace for a reception with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.

A chief concern in Britain is that Mr. Trump could change the course of next week’s election, intentionally or not, by sending inflammatory tweets or wading into local politics in interviews.

During his meeting with Mr. Stoltenberg, Mr. Trump indicated that he would respect Mr. Johnson’s wishes and not interfere in the impending election.

“I’ll stay out of the election,” Mr. Trump said. “I think Boris is very capable and he will do a good job.”

Hours before he and the first lady, Melania Trump, were expected at the palace, Mr. Trump also addressed a controversy engulfing the Royal family. Prince Andrew, the queen’s third child, recently spoke with the BBC about his relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey A. Epstein — an interview that turned into a public relations disaster, leading to the prince stepping back from public life.

“I don’t know Prince Andrew, but that’s a tough story,” Mr. Trump said.

In dealing with Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Trump has taken a soft touch, after other NATO members condemned Turkey’s decision to launch an offensive into northeastern Syria against Kurdish militia. A Kurdish force had been fighting alongside the Americans against the Islamic State, but Mr. Trump gave the go-ahead for the Turkish incursion in a controversial phone call.

Steven Erlanger contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

In Tense Exchange, Trump and Macron Put Forth Dueling Visions for NATO

LONDON — A once-cordial relationship between President Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France devolved in a dramatic fashion on Tuesday, as the two leaders publicly sparred over their approach to containing the threat of terrorism and a shared vision for the future of NATO, a 70-year-old alliance facing existential threats on multiple fronts.

In a lengthy appearance before reporters, the president met a cool reception from Mr. Macron, who earlier in the day Mr. Trump derided as “very insulting” for his recent remarks on the “brain death” of the alliance. When asked to address his earlier comments on the French leader, Mr. Trump, a leader averse to face-to-face confrontation, initially demurred, but Mr. Macron was direct.

“My statement created some reactions,” Mr. Macron said. “I do stand by it.”

What followed was an extended, terse back-and-forth over trade, immigration, and Mr. Trump’s relationship with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Mr. Trump’s interactions with the Turkish president are also sure to be closely watched. Mr. Erdogan, who has already upset NATO allies by purchasing a sophisticated Russian antiaircraft missile system, the S-400, is now threatening to oppose NATO’s plans to update the defense of Poland and the Baltic countries if the alliance does not join him in labeling some Kurdish groups as terrorists.

”Who is the enemy today?” Mr. Macron asked. “And let’s be clear and work together on that.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_164329611_60662a0d-f574-45d5-b95b-60cda22a7fa4-articleLarge In Tense Exchange, Trump and Macron Put Forth Dueling Visions for NATO United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States North Atlantic Treaty Organization Great Britain elections Defense and Military Forces

Mr. Trump, left, with Turkish president Recep Tayypip Erdogan during a visit to the White House in November.Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The meeting continued to devolve as the two discussed the containment of ISIS fighters in Syria. Hunched forward, Mr. Trump tried to jokingly offer captive fighters to the French.

“Would you like some nice ISIS fighters?” Mr. Trump said.

“Let’s be serious,” a stone-faced Mr. Macron replied. Mr. Macron said that he and Mr. Trump “don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table.”

“When I look at Turkey, they are fighting against those who fight with us,” he added, referring to Kurdish fighters.

The contentious tone was baked into the day’s proceedings. Hours earlier, in a meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, Mr. Trump said President Emmanuel Macron of France had been “very insulting” to the alliance.

Mr. Macron had suggested that Europe could no longer assume unwavering support from the United States. “I think nobody needs it more than France,” Mr. Trump said of the alliance, “and that’s why I think when France makes a statement like they made about NATO, that’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.”

Mr. Trump’s visit comes as leaders across Europe struggle to balance the shared goal of combating the rising influence of global adversaries — China will be a focus — and containing other unpredictable members, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said that he was considering delaying reaching a deal in his protracted and economically damaging trade war with China until after the 2020 election.

“In some ways I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal,” Mr. Trump said, adding that he had “no deadline” for reaching an accord.

Mr. Trump’s defense of NATO against Mr. Macron’s comments was something of a role reversal for the two leaders. In the past, Mr. Trump has been so disruptive at NATO meetings that he triggered an emergency session. He has accused other member countries of shortchanging the United States on military spending, and he has questioned whether the alliance still served a purpose.

A goal of the current meeting was to avoid any formal disruptions. This time, however, it was Mr. Macron’s comments that were viewed as unhelpful to the alliance.

Mr. Trump called the remarks a “very, very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries” and said that NATO served a “great purpose.”

Heather A. Conley, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Mr. Macron saw an opportunity to assert French leadership in Europe, with Britain moving toward leaving the European Union and the German government enmeshed in its own political troubles.

“President Macron is seizing that moment, seeking to be disruptive in his own way, and so we will see how that works,” she said.

In the background of these competing global interests is Mr. Trump’s possible impeachment. On Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee is set to question legal experts about whether there are grounds to impeach Mr. Trump for pressuring Ukraine to take actions that could help him in the 2020 election.

That threatens to throw off Mr. Trump’s focus and overshadow a victorious message that administration officials brought along with them to Britain: Last week, officials told reporters that the president had been “spectacularly successful” in urging allies to increase their military spending by more than $100 billion.

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump spoke to reporters for 52 minutes, at times turning his attention back to domestic issues. He castigated the impeachment effort led by Democrats as “unpatriotic” and again defended his behavior during a July call with the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky — an interaction that formed the basis for the inquiry.

“I did nothing wrong,” Mr. Trump said of the impeachment inquiry during a bilateral meeting with Mr. Stoltenberg, noting that he was not open to a censure from Congress, either. “You don’t censure somebody when they did nothing wrong.”

Mr. Trump’s morning comments set a tense backdrop for his meeting on Tuesday afternoon with Mr. Macron, who has shifted from a charm offensive with Mr. Trump to a more confrontational approach.

Experts in the region said they were watching to see whether Mr. Macron and Mr. Trump could agree on a path forward for NATO. “We need U.S. leadership in order to push any number of things on the NATO agenda, particularly in tougher areas like nuclear modernization or arms control,” Ms. Conley said.

Mr. Trump will also meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and host a private fund-raising round table with supporters, which Trump campaign officials say will raise $3 million.

Notably absent from the president’s schedule is a one-on-one meeting with the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, who is campaigning ahead of a Dec. 12 election and has been desperate to keep Mr. Trump at arm’s length. Mr. Johnson is managing the political fallout from a terrorist attack on Friday in central London, where a lone extremist fatally stabbed two people and wounded three others.

Mr. Johnson will host several leaders, including the president, in a group reception at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday evening, before the Trumps head to Buckingham Palace for a reception with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.

A chief concern in Britain is that Mr. Trump could change the course of next week’s election, intentionally or not, by sending inflammatory tweets or wading into local politics in interviews.

During his meeting with Mr. Stoltenberg, Mr. Trump indicated that he would respect Mr. Johnson’s wishes and not interfere in the impending election.

“I’ll stay out of the election,” Mr. Trump said. “I think Boris is very capable and he will do a good job.”

Hours before he and the first lady, Melania Trump, were expected at the palace, Mr. Trump also addressed a controversy engulfing the Royal family. Prince Andrew, the queen’s third child, recently spoke with the BBC about his relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey A. Epstein — an interview that turned into a public relations disaster, leading to the prince stepping back from public life.

“I don’t know Prince Andrew, but that’s a tough story,” Mr. Trump said.

In dealing with Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Trump has taken a soft touch, after other NATO members condemned Turkey’s decision to launch an offensive into northeastern Syria against Kurdish militia. A Kurdish force had been fighting alongside the Americans against the Islamic State, but Mr. Trump gave the go-ahead for the Turkish incursion in a controversial phone call.

Steven Erlanger contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Begins NATO Summit by Targeting Macron’s ‘Brain Death’ Comment

Westlake Legal Group 03prexy-sub2-facebookJumbo Trump Begins NATO Summit by Targeting Macron’s ‘Brain Death’ Comment United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States North Atlantic Treaty Organization Great Britain elections Defense and Military Forces

LONDON — President Trump began a two-day summit meeting on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of NATO — strained, in part, by his own brash handling of overseas allies — by stepping into an unlikely role as defender of an alliance he once called “obsolete.”

In a meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, Mr. Trump said President Emmanuel Macron of France had been “very insulting” to the alliance when he warned recently about the “brain death” of NATO.

Mr. Macron had suggested that Europe could no longer assume unwavering support from the United States. The two leaders were scheduled to meet later in the day.

“I think nobody needs it more than France,” Mr. Trump said of the alliance, “and that’s why I think when France makes a statement like they made about NATO, that’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.”

Mr. Trump’s visit comes as leaders across Europe struggle to balance the shared goal of combating the rising influence of global adversaries — China will be a focus — and containing other unpredictable members, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said that he was considering delaying reaching a deal in his protracted and economically damaging trade war with China until after the 2020 election.

“In some ways I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal,” Mr. Trump said, adding that he had “no deadline” for reaching an accord.

Mr. Trump’s defense of NATO against Mr. Macron’s comments was something of a role reversal for the two leaders. In the past, Mr. Trump has been so disruptive at NATO meetings that he triggered an emergency session. He has accused other member countries of shortchanging the United States on military spending, and he has questioned whether the alliance still served a purpose.

A goal of the current meeting was to avoid any formal disruptions. This time, however, it was Mr. Macron’s comments that were viewed as unhelpful to the alliance.

Mr. Trump called the remarks a “very, very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries” and said that NATO served a “great purpose.”

Heather A. Conley, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Mr. Macron saw an opportunity to assert French leadership in Europe, with Britain moving toward leaving the European Union and the German government enmeshed in its own political troubles.

“President Macron is seizing that moment, seeking to be disruptive in his own way, and so we will see how that works,” she said.

In the background of these competing global interests is Mr. Trump’s possible impeachment. On Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee is set to question legal experts about whether there are grounds to impeach Mr. Trump for pressuring Ukraine to take actions that could help him in the 2020 election.

That threatens to throw off Mr. Trump’s focus and overshadow a victorious message that administration officials brought along with them to Britain: Last week, officials told reporters that the president had been “spectacularly successful” in urging allies to increase their military spending by more than $100 billion.

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump spoke to reporters for 52 minutes, at times turning his attention back to domestic issues. He castigated the impeachment effort led by Democrats as “unpatriotic” and again defended his behavior during a July call with the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky — an interaction that formed the basis for the inquiry.

“I did nothing wrong,” Mr. Trump said of the impeachment inquiry during a bilateral meeting with Mr. Stoltenberg, noting that he was not open to a censure from Congress, either. “You don’t censure somebody when they did nothing wrong.”

Mr. Trump’s morning comments set a tense backdrop for his meeting on Tuesday afternoon with Mr. Macron, who has shifted from a charm offensive with Mr. Trump to a more confrontational approach.

Experts in the region said they were watching to see whether Mr. Macron and Mr. Trump could agree on a path forward for NATO. “We need U.S. leadership in order to push any number of things on the NATO agenda, particularly in tougher areas like nuclear modernization or arms control,” Ms. Conley said.

Mr. Trump will also meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and host a private fund-raising round table with supporters, which Trump campaign officials say will raise $3 million.

Notably absent from the president’s schedule is a one-on-one meeting with the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, who is campaigning ahead of a Dec. 12 election and has been desperate to keep Mr. Trump at arm’s length. Mr. Johnson is managing the political fallout from a terrorist attack on Friday in central London, where a lone extremist fatally stabbed two people and wounded three others.

Mr. Johnson will host several leaders, including the president, in a group reception at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday evening, before the Trumps head to Buckingham Palace for a reception with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.

A chief concern in Britain is that Mr. Trump could change the course of next week’s election, intentionally or not, by sending inflammatory tweets or wading into local politics in interviews.

During his meeting with Mr. Stoltenberg, Mr. Trump indicated that he would respect Mr. Johnson’s wishes and not interfere in the impending election.

“I’ll stay out of the election,” Mr. Trump said. “I think Boris is very capable and he will do a good job.”

Hours before he and the first lady, Melania Trump, were expected at the palace, Mr. Trump also addressed a controversy engulfing the Royal family. Prince Andrew, the queen’s third child, recently spoke with the BBC about his relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey A. Epstein — an interview that turned into a public relations disaster, leading to the prince stepping back from public life.

“I don’t know Prince Andrew, but that’s a tough story,” Mr. Trump said.

Steven Erlanger contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hong Kong Election Results Give Democracy Backers Big Win

Westlake Legal Group 24hk-elect-sub-copy-facebookJumbo-v3 Hong Kong Election Results Give Democracy Backers Big Win Politics and Government Lam, Carrie (1957- ) Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong elections China

HONG KONG — Pro-democracy candidates buoyed by months of street protests in Hong Kong won a stunning victory in local elections on Sunday, as record numbers voted in a vivid expression of the city’s aspirations and its anger with the Chinese government.

It was a pointed rebuke of Beijing and its allies in Hong Kong, and the turnout — seven in 10 eligible voters — suggested that the public continues to back the democracy movement, even as the protests grow increasingly violent. Young Hong Kongers, a major force behind the demonstrations of the past six months, played a leading role in the voting surge.

With three million voters casting ballots, pro-democracy parties captured at least 389 of 452 elected seats, up from only 124 and far surpassing the previous high point, 198, set in 2003. With two races undecided, the government’s allies held just 56 seats, down from 300.

To many democracy advocates, Sunday was a turning point.

“There has been a very deep awakening of the Hong Kong people,” said Alan Leong, chairman of the Civic Party, one of the largest pro-democracy parties.

The elections were for district councils, one of the lowest elected offices in Hong Kong, and they are typically a subdued affair focused on community issues. The job mostly entails pushing for neighborhood needs like bus stops and traffic lights.

But this election took on outsize significance, and was viewed as a referendum on the unrest that has created the city’s worst political crisis in decades. In a semiautonomous part of China where greater democracy is one of the protesters’ biggest demands, it gave residents a rare chance to vote.

The gains at the ballot box are likely to embolden a democracy movement that has struggled with how to balance peaceful and violent protests to achieve its goals.

They are also likely to deepen the challenges for China’s central government, which wants to curb the unrest in Hong Kong. And they might exacerbate Beijing’s fears about giving the city’s residents even greater say in choosing their government.

The district councils are among the most democratic bodies in Hong Kong. Almost all the seats are directly elected, unlike the legislature, where the proportion is just over half. The territory’s chief executive is also not chosen directly by voters, but is instead selected by a committee stacked in favor of Beijing.

The election results will give democracy forces considerably more influence on that committee.

The district councils name about a tenth of the group’s 1,200 members, and now all of these will flip from pro-Beijing to pro-democracy seats. Democracy advocates already control about a quarter of the seats, while other previously pro-Beijing sectors of the committee are now starting to lean toward democracy, most notably accountants and real estate lawyers.

Mr. Leong, the Civic Party chairman, called on the Chinese Communist Party to change its policies in Hong Kong.

“Unless the C.C.P. is doing something concrete to address the concerns of the Hong Kong people,” he said, “I think this movement cannot end.”

Regina Ip, a cabinet member and the leader of a pro-Beijing political party, said she was surprised to see so many young voters, many of whom tried to confront her with the protesters’ demands.

“Normally,” she said, “the young people do not come out to vote. But this time, the opposition managed to turn them out.”

Ahead of the election, the city’s leadership was concerned that the vote would be marred by the chaos of recent months. Some of the most violent clashes yet between protesters and the police took place last week, turning two university campuses into battlegrounds.

But the city remained relatively calm on Sunday as voters turned out in droves. Long lines formed at polling centers in the morning, snaking around skyscrapers and past small shops. Riot police officers were deployed near polling stations on Sunday.

David Lee, a retired printer approaching his 90th birthday, was among the earliest voters on Hong Kong Island and said he had come because he wanted democracy.

“This is important,” he said.

Some analysts had predicted that pro-democracy candidates would have difficulty making big gains. Pro-Beijing candidates are much better financed, and the district races have traditionally been won on purely local issues, not big questions like democracy, said Joseph Cheng, a retired professor at City University of Hong Kong.

But voter turnout soared to 71 percent, far surpassing expectations. Typically in district council elections, it is little more than 40 percent. Four years ago, after the 2014 Umbrella Movement increased public interest in politics, turnout climbed to 47 percent. This year, the number of registered voters hit a record.

On Sunday, several prominent pro-Beijing politicians lost their races, among them Michael Tien, a longtime establishment lawmaker. After his defeat, he said the increase in young voters signaled that they were becoming more politically engaged, adding that the government should listen to them.

The previous record for pro-democracy seats set in 2003 followed huge protests against national security legislation. But after that election Beijing began investing heavily in grass-roots mobilization efforts for local elections, including busing large numbers of older Hong Kong citizens from retirement homes in mainland China to polling places in Hong Kong.

In the district of Tuen Mun, about a hundred people celebrated with cheers and champagne the defeat of Junius Ho, a controversial lawmaker many protesters accused of supporting mob attacks against them.

Instead of just focusing on local issues, many pro-democracy candidates ran on the broad themes of the protest movement, especially anger at police brutality, and the intensity of the demonstrations sometimes spilled into the race. Candidates on both sides were attacked while campaigning.

Mandy Lee, 53, a homemaker who voted at the Kowloon Bay neighborhood, showed up to vote for the pro-Beijing establishment and criticized the protests.

“It’s not that I have no sympathy toward young people, but I strongly believe that their efforts are futile,” she said. “We are a tiny island; it’s only a matter of time before China takes us over and integrates us.”

The outcome of the election could further complicate the position of Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s embattled chief executive. Critics say that she has failed to engage with the community over the protests and that she has not listened to people’s concerns.

In June, Mrs. Lam set off enormous protests by pushing ahead with a bill that would have allowed the extradition of Hong Kong residents to the opaque judicial system in mainland China. The issue played to deeper worries about Beijing’s encroachment on Hong Kong, which has maintained its own political and judicial system since the former British colony was reclaimed by China in 1997.

Mrs. Lam withdrew her proposal after months of protests, but many said she acted too late. The protesters are now demanding additional concessions, including the introduction of universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police conduct.

With Sunday’s gain for pro-democracy forces, the district councils may now have more sway in picking the next chief executive, in 2022. The camp that holds a majority of district council seats could choose as many as one-tenth of the electors for a new, 1,200-member election committee.

Many pro-Beijing political parties receive large donations from the Hong Kong subsidiaries of state-owned enterprises in mainland China, which they use to organize picnics and other campaign events. But the results on Sunday showed the limits of these efforts.

Matthew Cheung, the chief secretary and second-highest official of the Hong Kong government, said on Sunday during the voting that the city’s leadership would pay close attention to the results of the vote no matter how it turned out.

“The election is an important political thermometer,” he said. “We will definitely take it seriously.”

Katherine Li contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hong Kong Democracy Backers Win Big as Voters Flock to Polls

Westlake Legal Group 24hk-elect-sub-copy-facebookJumbo-v3 Hong Kong Democracy Backers Win Big as Voters Flock to Polls Politics and Government Lam, Carrie (1957- ) Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong elections China

HONG KONG — Pro-democracy candidates buoyed by months of street protests in Hong Kong appeared headed to a stunning victory in local elections on Sunday, as record numbers voted in a vivid expression of the city’s aspirations and its anger with the Chinese government.

It was a pointed rebuke for Beijing and its allies in Hong Kong, and the turnout — nearly seven in 10 eligible voters — suggested that the public continues to back the democracy movement, even as the protests have grown increasingly violent. The surge was driven especially by young voters, a major force behind the demonstrations of the past six months.

With three million voters casting ballots, pro-democracy parties captured at least 201 of 452 elected seats, up from 124, and perhaps many more, according to local media outlets tallying early official results.

To many democracy advocates, Sunday was a turning point for the movement.

“There has been a very deep awakening of the Hong Kong people,” said Alan Leong, chairman of the Civic Party, one of the largest pro-democracy parties.

The races for district councils, one of the lowest elected offices in Hong Kong, are typically a subdued affair focused on community issues. The job mostly entails pushing for neighborhood needs like bus stops and traffic lights.

But this election took on outsize significance, and was viewed as a referendum on the unrest that has created the city’s worst political crisis in decades. In a semiautonomous part of China where greater democracy is one of the protesters’ biggest demands, it provided a rare chance to vote.

The district councils are one of the most democratic bodies in Hong Kong. Almost all the seats are directly elected, unlike the legislature, where the proportion is just over half. The territory’s chief executive is also not chosen directly by voters, but is instead selected by a committee stacked in favor of Beijing.

The gains at the ballot box are likely to embolden a democracy movement that has struggled with how to balance peaceful and violent protests to achieve its goals. They are also likely to deepen the challenges for China’s central government, which wants to curb the unrest in Hong Kong.

The result might also exacerbate Beijing’s fears about giving the city’s residents even greater say in choosing their government.

Mr. Leong, the Civic Party chairman, called on the Chinese Communist Party to change its policies in Hong Kong.

“Unless the C.C.P. is doing something concrete to address the concerns of the Hong Kong people,” he said, “I think this movement cannot end.”

A few democracy supporters had hoped that the election might give them more sway over the election committee that chooses the city’s chief executive, but that was always seen as a long shot. It was unclear from early results whether that might happen.

Ahead of the election, the city’s leadership was concerned that the vote would be marred by the chaos of recent months. Some of the most violent clashes yet between protesters and the police took place last week, turning two university campuses into battlegrounds.

But the city remained relatively calm on Sunday as voters turned out in droves. Long lines formed at polling centers in the morning, snaking around skyscrapers and past small shops.

David Lee, a retired printer approaching his 90th birthday, was among the earliest voters on Hong Kong Island and said he had come because he wanted democracy.

“This is important,” he said.

Joseph Cheng, a retired professor at City University of Hong Kong, had predicted that pro-democracy candidates would have difficulty making big gains. Pro-Beijing candidates are much better financed, and the district races have traditionally been won on purely local issues, not big questions like democracy.

But voter turnout soared to 71 percent, far surpassing expectations. Typically in district council elections, it is little more than 40 percent. Four years ago, after the 2014 Umbrella Movement increased public interest in politics, turnout climbed to 47 percent. This year, the number of registered voters hit a record.

On Sunday, several prominent pro-Beijing politicians lost their races, among them Michael Tien, a longtime establishment lawmaker. After his defeat, he said the increase in young voters signaled that they were becoming more politically engaged, adding that the government should listen to their voices.

About a hundred revelers celebrated the loss of Junius Ho, a controversial lawmaker many protesters accused of supporting mob attacks against them, with jubilant cheers and champagne.

Regina Ip, a cabinet member and the leader of a pro-Beijing political party, said she was surprised to see so many young voters, many of whom tried to confront her with the protesters’ demands.

“Normally,” she said, “the young people do not come out to vote. But this time, the opposition managed to turn them out.”

Many pro-democracy candidates campaigned on broad issues, hoping to ride the tide of public anger expressed through the protests. Some included protest slogans on their campaign materials.

The intensity of the protests spilled over into the campaign. Candidates on both sides were attacked, as were activists. Riot police officers were deployed near polling stations on Sunday.

A steady stream of voters continued well after sunset at the Yau Ma Tei Community Center polling station in Kowloon, nestled between a street market famous for jade and the graceful banyan trees of an ancient temple.

Mandy Lee, 53, a homemaker who voted at the Kowloon Bay neighborhood, showed up to vote for the pro-Beijing establishment and criticized the protests.

“It’s not that I have no sympathy toward young people, but I strongly believe that their efforts are futile,” she said. “We are a tiny island; it’s only a matter of time before China takes us over and integrates us.”

The outcome of the election could further complicate the position of Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s embattled chief executive. Critics say that she has failed to engage with the community over the protests and that she has not listened to people’s concerns.

In June, Mrs. Lam set off enormous protests by pushing ahead with a bill that would have allowed the extradition of Hong Kong residents to the opaque judicial system in mainland China. The issue played to deeper worries about Beijing’s encroachment on Hong Kong, which has maintained its own political and judicial system since the former British colony was reclaimed by China in 1997.

Mrs. Lam withdrew her proposal after months of protests, but it may have been a move that many critics considered too late. The protesters now maintain that several other demands must also be met, including the introduction of universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police conduct.

With Sunday’s gain for pro-democracy forces, the district councils may now have more sway in picking the next chief executive, in 2022. The camp that holds a majority of district council seats could choose as many as one-tenth of the electors for a new, 1,200-member election committee.

The performance of the pro-Beijing parties on Sunday suggests their support for the unpopular extradition bill hurt their image with voters. It also shows that their ability to galvanize voters has limits.

Many of the establishment groups receive large donations from the Hong Kong subsidiaries of state-owned enterprises in mainland China, which allows the pro-Beijing parties to host many picnics and other social events for their supporters, who are often older.

Matthew Cheung, the chief secretary and second-highest official of the Hong Kong government, vowed on Sunday during the voting that the city’s leadership would pay close attention to the results of the vote no matter how it turned out.

“The election is an important political thermometer,” he said. “We will definitely take it seriously.”

Katherine Li contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

As Hong Kong Votes, Pro-Democracy Candidates Make Surprising Gains

Westlake Legal Group 24hk-elect1-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 As Hong Kong Votes, Pro-Democracy Candidates Make Surprising Gains Politics and Government Lam, Carrie (1957- ) Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong elections China

HONG KONG — Pro-democracy campaigners took a strong lead in Hong Kong local elections on Sunday, according to early results, in a vote that turned a usually low-key affair into a referendum on the unrest that has created the city’s worst political crisis in decades.

The unusually high turnout was a signal that this was no ordinary election. Nearly three million people thronged Hong Kong’s polling places, and it appears they delivered a broad and unexpected victory the democracy movement.

It was a pointed rebuke for Beijing and its allies in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous part of China, and it suggested that the public continues to back the movement, even as the protests have grown increasingly violent. The surge was driven especially by young voters, a major force behind the demonstrations over the past six months.

The election was for district council members, one of the lowest rungs of Hong Kong’s elected offices. District councils mainly deal with noise complaints, bus stop locations and neighborhood beautification projects. Elections for them are usually quiet affairs focused on community issues.

But in the midst of the increasingly violent protests that have divided the city, the race took on outsize significance. The vote was the first test of whether the protests could transform public anger that has led millions to take to the streets into actual votes, or whether the populace had grown weary of acts of civil disobedience that have snarled transportation and forced the closing of schools and businesses.

Through it all, the city was calm, as democracy advocates appeared to focus on participating in one of the few elections that Beijing allows in the territory under its sovereignty.

“Politically speaking, the battle of the district councils as a whole is a crucial battle in taking control,” said Eddie Chu, a pro-democracy legislator who is also running for district council.

Here’s a look at the race and what is at stake:

More than 69 percent of voters had hit the polls with around an hour left before sites closed. Those numbers surpassed the 47 percent turnout in the entire election four years ago. Back then, it had already set a record, lifted by an awakening of political interest that accompanied the Umbrella Movement a year earlier.

Before voting began on Sunday morning, the government had strongly denied a persistent rumor on social media that the polls might close after the first several hours, instead of being open for the scheduled 15 hours.

That rumor gave both sides in the election an incentive to urge their voters to show up early. Four times as many people voted in the first hour of polling as did in the 2015 district council elections.

“I haven’t been voting for a while; this time is very important,” Ada Chan, 30, an office worker, said as she left a polling place after casting her ballot early.

Lines quickly became so long on Sunday morning that Patrick Nip, the territory’s secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, appealed to the public to have more confidence that the polls would stay open.

“The voting time is very abundant, so you don’t have to concentrate on voting at the same time,” he said.

By late afternoon, lines had disappeared at some locations. The voters had dwindled to a trickle at the Yau Ma Tei Community Center polling station, nestled between the city’s famous street market for jade and the graceful banyan trees of an ancient temple.

A call to expand Hong Kong’s limited democracy is one of the demands of the protest movement, which began in June over a now-withdrawn proposal that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

Protesters have called for direct elections for the entire legislature, where currently only 40 of the 70 seats are selected by popular vote. They have also called for the chief executive, who is selected by a largely pro-Beijing election committee, to instead be chosen by voters.

The district councils have no lawmaking power. They control small amounts of public funds for simple infrastructure, like rain shelters. They lodge concerns with government departments over noise, traffic, sanitation and other issues. (Of the 479 district council seats, 452 are directly elected.)

The district council members do have a modest role in choosing the chief executive, Hong Kong’s highest official. Whichever side wins a majority of the seats controls 117 votes in the 1,200-member chief executive election committee.

That election committee is dominated by pro-establishment corporate interests, and the chief executives they have selected have always been loyal to Beijing. But a win would give the overall pro-democracy camp control of an additional 10 percent of the votes, and put it close to the 150 votes necessary to nominate a candidate.

The brochures of district council candidates typically show neighborhood concerns they pledge to fix: trash-filled alleys, air-conditioners dripping on sidewalks and streets lined with illegally parked cars.

This year, several pro-democracy candidates have included protest slogans on their materials. Law Cheuk-yung, 22, said he was inspired to run for district council because of recent social movements. He said he would demand answers from the police after residents complained of possible testing of tear gas in his district, Tuen Mun.

“I want to imagine local government being more responsive,” he said. “At the moment the district council is just a rubber stamp. They do whatever the government wants.”

For such candidates, it is more about playing to the sentiment of the protests rather than taking action. They would not have much of a role in addressing protesters’ demands, which include an investigation into the police’s use of force, offering amnesty to those arrested in the protests and expanding direct elections.

“They are all trying to capitalize on public anger,” said Suzanne Pepper, a scholar of Chinese politics who lives in Hong Kong.

Establishment parties have long had an advantage in these races, in part because they are much better funded, with backing from businesses. Currently the pro-Beijing camp holds 327 district council seats versus 124 for the pro-democracy group.

Rising interest in the election has meant that pro-democracy candidates are participating in every race, unlike previous years, when some establishment district council members ran unopposed. And after worries about disqualifications, only one of the camp’s candidates, the prominent activist Joshua Wong, was barred from running this year for political reasons. An election officer ruled that Mr. Wong could not uphold Hong Kong law because his political organization viewed independence from China as a possible goal for the city.

A string of violent attacks on election candidates has hung over the race. Twelve opposition figures, including prominent politicians and activists as well as first-time candidates, have been ambushed and bloodied by gangs of masked men or attacked while canvassing for votes.

“We can see Hong Kong isn’t as free and as civilized as we’d previously imagined,” said Jannelle Leung, a 25-year-old accountant who was struck in the back of her head with a hard object in early October the day she announced she was officially running. She also said she received sexually harassing phone calls before the attack.

Jocelyn Chau, a first-time candidate like Ms. Leung who received similar lurid calls before being punched by a man while canvassing last month in the pro-Beijing neighborhood of North Point, criticized the government for not condemning the attacks on pro-democracy figures. “Not even superficial gestures,” said Ms. Chau, 23.

The polarizing pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho was injured in a knife attack this month and his offices were vandalized. He called the attack “a dark day for the district council election,” adding that the “orderly election had been completely obliterated.”

The attacks on candidates and vandalism had stirred worries that the election might be postponed. Some pro-democracy figures had said that a delay could harm their strength at the polls.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, had said the government would do its best to ensure the election would go on as scheduled. The government posted riot police officers near polling places across the city, though outside the zones marked with yellow tape where only voters could go.

The city had been convulsed by two weeks of intense protest, including on several campuses. At Chinese University of Hong Kong, protesters clashed with the police and occupied the college for five days. At Hong Kong Polytechnic University, more than 1,000 people at one point were trapped by a police siege.

Patrick Nip, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, warned last Monday that further unrest would reduce the chances of the election’s being held as scheduled. He called for an end to violence “and all kinds of duress.”

In the past few days, protests ebbed drastically, however, as the city prepared to take its conflicts to the polls.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

As Hong Kong Votes, Pro-Democracy Candidates Make Surprising Gains

Westlake Legal Group 24hk-elect1-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 As Hong Kong Votes, Pro-Democracy Candidates Make Surprising Gains Politics and Government Lam, Carrie (1957- ) Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong elections China

HONG KONG — Pro-democracy campaigners took a strong lead in Hong Kong local elections on Sunday, according to early results, in a vote that turned a usually low-key affair into a referendum on the unrest that has created the city’s worst political crisis in decades.

The unusually high turnout was a signal that this was no ordinary election. Nearly three million people thronged Hong Kong’s polling places, and it appears they delivered a broad and unexpected victory the democracy movement.

It was a pointed rebuke for Beijing and its allies in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous part of China, and it suggested that the public continues to back the movement, even as the protests have grown increasingly violent. The surge was driven especially by young voters, a major force behind the demonstrations over the past six months.

The election was for district council members, one of the lowest rungs of Hong Kong’s elected offices. District councils mainly deal with noise complaints, bus stop locations and neighborhood beautification projects. Elections for them are usually quiet affairs focused on community issues.

But in the midst of the increasingly violent protests that have divided the city, the race took on outsize significance. The vote was the first test of whether the protests could transform public anger that has led millions to take to the streets into actual votes, or whether the populace had grown weary of acts of civil disobedience that have snarled transportation and forced the closing of schools and businesses.

Through it all, the city was calm, as democracy advocates appeared to focus on participating in one of the few elections that Beijing allows in the territory under its sovereignty.

“Politically speaking, the battle of the district councils as a whole is a crucial battle in taking control,” said Eddie Chu, a pro-democracy legislator who is also running for district council.

Here’s a look at the race and what is at stake:

More than 69 percent of voters had hit the polls with around an hour left before sites closed. Those numbers surpassed the 47 percent turnout in the entire election four years ago. Back then, it had already set a record, lifted by an awakening of political interest that accompanied the Umbrella Movement a year earlier.

Before voting began on Sunday morning, the government had strongly denied a persistent rumor on social media that the polls might close after the first several hours, instead of being open for the scheduled 15 hours.

That rumor gave both sides in the election an incentive to urge their voters to show up early. Four times as many people voted in the first hour of polling as did in the 2015 district council elections.

“I haven’t been voting for a while; this time is very important,” Ada Chan, 30, an office worker, said as she left a polling place after casting her ballot early.

Lines quickly became so long on Sunday morning that Patrick Nip, the territory’s secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, appealed to the public to have more confidence that the polls would stay open.

“The voting time is very abundant, so you don’t have to concentrate on voting at the same time,” he said.

By late afternoon, lines had disappeared at some locations. The voters had dwindled to a trickle at the Yau Ma Tei Community Center polling station, nestled between the city’s famous street market for jade and the graceful banyan trees of an ancient temple.

A call to expand Hong Kong’s limited democracy is one of the demands of the protest movement, which began in June over a now-withdrawn proposal that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

Protesters have called for direct elections for the entire legislature, where currently only 40 of the 70 seats are selected by popular vote. They have also called for the chief executive, who is selected by a largely pro-Beijing election committee, to instead be chosen by voters.

The district councils have no lawmaking power. They control small amounts of public funds for simple infrastructure, like rain shelters. They lodge concerns with government departments over noise, traffic, sanitation and other issues. (Of the 479 district council seats, 452 are directly elected.)

The district council members do have a modest role in choosing the chief executive, Hong Kong’s highest official. Whichever side wins a majority of the seats controls 117 votes in the 1,200-member chief executive election committee.

That election committee is dominated by pro-establishment corporate interests, and the chief executives they have selected have always been loyal to Beijing. But a win would give the overall pro-democracy camp control of an additional 10 percent of the votes, and put it close to the 150 votes necessary to nominate a candidate.

The brochures of district council candidates typically show neighborhood concerns they pledge to fix: trash-filled alleys, air-conditioners dripping on sidewalks and streets lined with illegally parked cars.

This year, several pro-democracy candidates have included protest slogans on their materials. Law Cheuk-yung, 22, said he was inspired to run for district council because of recent social movements. He said he would demand answers from the police after residents complained of possible testing of tear gas in his district, Tuen Mun.

“I want to imagine local government being more responsive,” he said. “At the moment the district council is just a rubber stamp. They do whatever the government wants.”

For such candidates, it is more about playing to the sentiment of the protests rather than taking action. They would not have much of a role in addressing protesters’ demands, which include an investigation into the police’s use of force, offering amnesty to those arrested in the protests and expanding direct elections.

“They are all trying to capitalize on public anger,” said Suzanne Pepper, a scholar of Chinese politics who lives in Hong Kong.

Establishment parties have long had an advantage in these races, in part because they are much better funded, with backing from businesses. Currently the pro-Beijing camp holds 327 district council seats versus 124 for the pro-democracy group.

Rising interest in the election has meant that pro-democracy candidates are participating in every race, unlike previous years, when some establishment district council members ran unopposed. And after worries about disqualifications, only one of the camp’s candidates, the prominent activist Joshua Wong, was barred from running this year for political reasons. An election officer ruled that Mr. Wong could not uphold Hong Kong law because his political organization viewed independence from China as a possible goal for the city.

A string of violent attacks on election candidates has hung over the race. Twelve opposition figures, including prominent politicians and activists as well as first-time candidates, have been ambushed and bloodied by gangs of masked men or attacked while canvassing for votes.

“We can see Hong Kong isn’t as free and as civilized as we’d previously imagined,” said Jannelle Leung, a 25-year-old accountant who was struck in the back of her head with a hard object in early October the day she announced she was officially running. She also said she received sexually harassing phone calls before the attack.

Jocelyn Chau, a first-time candidate like Ms. Leung who received similar lurid calls before being punched by a man while canvassing last month in the pro-Beijing neighborhood of North Point, criticized the government for not condemning the attacks on pro-democracy figures. “Not even superficial gestures,” said Ms. Chau, 23.

The polarizing pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho was injured in a knife attack this month and his offices were vandalized. He called the attack “a dark day for the district council election,” adding that the “orderly election had been completely obliterated.”

The attacks on candidates and vandalism had stirred worries that the election might be postponed. Some pro-democracy figures had said that a delay could harm their strength at the polls.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, had said the government would do its best to ensure the election would go on as scheduled. The government posted riot police officers near polling places across the city, though outside the zones marked with yellow tape where only voters could go.

The city had been convulsed by two weeks of intense protest, including on several campuses. At Chinese University of Hong Kong, protesters clashed with the police and occupied the college for five days. At Hong Kong Polytechnic University, more than 1,000 people at one point were trapped by a police siege.

Patrick Nip, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, warned last Monday that further unrest would reduce the chances of the election’s being held as scheduled. He called for an end to violence “and all kinds of duress.”

In the past few days, protests ebbed drastically, however, as the city prepared to take its conflicts to the polls.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hong Kong Vote Turnout Sets Record After Months of Protest

Westlake Legal Group 24hk-elect1-facebookJumbo Hong Kong Vote Turnout Sets Record After Months of Protest Voting and Voters Lam, Carrie (1957- ) Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong elections

HONG KONG — After months of antigovernment protests in Hong Kong, voters on Sunday had a chance to voice their opinion on the city’s future — and they turned out in droves, shattering the city’s records for turnout.

The election on Sunday was for district council members, one of the lowest rungs of Hong Kong’s elected offices. District councils mainly deal with noise complaints, bus stop locations and neighborhood beautification projects. Elections for them are usually quiet affairs focused on community issues.

But in the midst of the increasingly violent protests that have divided the city, the race took on outsize significance. The vote was the first test of whether the protests could transform public anger that has led millions to take to the streets into actual votes, or whether the populace had grown weary of acts of civil disobedience that have snarled transportation and forced the closing of schools and businesses.

The results were expected hours after the polls closed at around 10:30 p.m. in Hong Kong. The election drew record-setting throngs of voters to polling places on Sunday.

Through it all, the city was calm, as democracy advocates appeared to focus on participating in one of the few elections that Beijing allows in the territory under its sovereignty.

“Politically speaking, the battle of the district councils as a whole is a crucial battle in taking control,” said Eddie Chu, a pro-democracy legislator who is also running for district council.

Here’s a look at the race and what is at stake:

More than 69 percent of voters had hit the polls with around an hour left before sites closed. Those numbers surpassed the 47 percent turnout in the entire election four years ago. Back then, it had already set a record, lifted by an awakening of political interest that accompanied the Umbrella Movement a year earlier.

Before voting began on Sunday morning, the government had strongly denied a persistent rumor on social media that the polls might close after the first several hours, instead of being open for the scheduled 15 hours.

That rumor gave both sides in the election an incentive to urge their voters to show up early. Four times as many people voted in the first hour of polling as did in the 2015 district council elections.

“I haven’t been voting for a while; this time is very important,” Ada Chan, 30, an office worker, said as she left a polling place after casting her ballot early.

Lines quickly became so long on Sunday morning that Patrick Nip, the territory’s secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, appealed to the public to have more confidence that the polls would stay open.

“The voting time is very abundant, so you don’t have to concentrate on voting at the same time,” he said.

By late afternoon, lines had disappeared at some locations. The voters had dwindled to a trickle at the Yau Ma Tei Community Center polling station, nestled between the city’s famous street market for jade and the graceful banyan trees of an ancient temple.

A call to expand Hong Kong’s limited democracy is one of the demands of the protest movement, which began in June over a now-withdrawn proposal that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

Protesters have called for direct elections for the entire legislature, where currently only 40 of the 70 seats are selected by popular vote. They have also called for the chief executive, who is selected by a largely pro-Beijing election committee, to instead be chosen by voters.

The district councils have no lawmaking power. They control small amounts of public funds for simple infrastructure, like rain shelters. They lodge concerns with government departments over noise, traffic, sanitation and other issues. (Of the 479 district council seats, 452 are directly elected.)

The district council members do have a modest role in choosing the chief executive, Hong Kong’s highest official. Whichever side wins a majority of the seats controls 117 votes in the 1,200-member chief executive election committee.

That election committee is dominated by pro-establishment corporate interests, and the chief executives they have selected have always been loyal to Beijing. But a win would give the overall pro-democracy camp control of an additional 10 percent of the votes, and put it close to the 150 votes necessary to nominate a candidate.

The brochures of district council candidates typically show neighborhood concerns they pledge to fix: trash-filled alleys, air-conditioners dripping on sidewalks and streets lined with illegally parked cars.

This year, several pro-democracy candidates have included protest slogans on their materials. Law Cheuk-yung, 22, said he was inspired to run for district council because of recent social movements. He said he would demand answers from the police after residents complained of possible testing of tear gas in his district, Tuen Mun.

“I want to imagine local government being more responsive,” he said. “At the moment the district council is just a rubber stamp. They do whatever the government wants.”

For such candidates, it is more about playing to the sentiment of the protests rather than taking action. They would not have much of a role in addressing protesters’ demands, which include an investigation into the police’s use of force, offering amnesty to those arrested in the protests and expanding direct elections.

“They are all trying to capitalize on public anger,” said Suzanne Pepper, a scholar of Chinese politics who lives in Hong Kong.

Establishment parties have long had an advantage in these races, in part because they are much better funded, with backing from businesses. Currently the pro-Beijing camp holds 327 district council seats versus 124 for the pro-democracy group.

Rising interest in the election has meant that pro-democracy candidates are participating in every race, unlike previous years, when some establishment district council members ran unopposed. And after worries about disqualifications, only one of the camp’s candidates, the prominent activist Joshua Wong, was barred from running this year for political reasons. An election officer ruled that Mr. Wong could not uphold Hong Kong law because his political organization viewed independence from China as a possible goal for the city.

A string of violent attacks on election candidates has hung over the race. Twelve opposition figures, including prominent politicians and activists as well as first-time candidates, have been ambushed and bloodied by gangs of masked men or attacked while canvassing for votes.

“We can see Hong Kong isn’t as free and as civilized as we’d previously imagined,” said Jannelle Leung, a 25-year-old accountant who was struck in the back of her head with a hard object in early October the day she announced she was officially running. She also said she received sexually harassing phone calls before the attack.

Jocelyn Chau, a first-time candidate like Ms. Leung who received similar lurid calls before being punched by a man while canvassing last month in the pro-Beijing neighborhood of North Point, criticized the government for not condemning the attacks on pro-democracy figures. “Not even superficial gestures,” said Ms. Chau, 23.

The polarizing pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho was injured in a knife attack this month and his offices were vandalized. He called the attack “a dark day for the district council election,” adding that the “orderly election had been completely obliterated.”

The attacks on candidates and vandalism had stirred worries that the election might be postponed. Some pro-democracy figures had said that a delay could harm their strength at the polls.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, had said the government would do its best to ensure the election would go on as scheduled. The government posted riot police officers near polling places across the city, though outside the zones marked with yellow tape where only voters could go.

The city had been convulsed by two weeks of intense protest, including on several campuses. At Chinese University of Hong Kong, protesters clashed with the police and occupied the college for five days. At Hong Kong Polytechnic University, more than 1,000 people at one point were trapped by a police siege.

Patrick Nip, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, warned last Monday that further unrest would reduce the chances of the election’s being held as scheduled. He called for an end to violence “and all kinds of duress.”

In the past few days, protests ebbed drastically, however, as the city prepared to take its conflicts to the polls.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Record Turnout in Hong Kong Vote After Months of Protests and Rising Violence

Westlake Legal Group 24hk-elect1-facebookJumbo Record Turnout in Hong Kong Vote After Months of Protests and Rising Violence Politics and Government Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong elections Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China

HONG KONG — After months of antigovernment protests in Hong Kong, voters on Sunday had a chance to voice their opinion on the city’s future — and they turned out in droves, shattering the city’s records for turnout.

The election on Sunday was for district council members, one of the lowest rungs of Hong Kong’s elected offices. District councils mainly deal with noise complaints, bus stop locations and neighborhood beautification projects. Elections for them are usually quiet affairs focused on community issues.

But in the midst of the increasingly violent protests that have divided the city, the race took on outsize significance. The vote was the first test of whether the protests could transform public anger that has led millions to take to the streets into actual votes, or whether the populace had grown weary of acts of civil disobedience that have snarled transportation and forced the closing of schools and businesses.

The results are expected hours after the polls closed at around 10:30 p.m. in Hong Kong. The election drew record-setting throngs of voters to polling places on Sunday. Through it all, the city was calm, as democracy advocates appeared to focus on participating in one of the few elections that Beijing allows in the territory under its sovereignty.

“Politically speaking, the battle of the district councils as a whole is a crucial battle in taking control,” said Eddie Chu, a pro-democracy legislator who is also running for district council.

Here’s a look at the race and what is at stake:

More than 69 percent of voters had hit the polls with around an hour left to go before the election closed. Those numbers surpassed the 47 percent turnout in the entire election four years ago. Back then, it had already set a record, lifted by an awakening of political interest that accompanied the Umbrella Movement a year earlier.

Before voting began on Sunday morning, the government had strongly denied a persistent rumor on social media that the polls might close after the first several hours, instead of being open for the scheduled 15 hours.

That rumor gave both sides in the election an incentive to urge their voters to show up early. Four times as many people voted in the first hour of polling as did in the 2015 district council elections.

“I haven’t been voting for a while — this time is very important,” Ada Chan, a 30-year-old office worker, said as she left a polling place after casting her ballot early.

Lines quickly became so long on Sunday morning that Patrick Nip, the territory’s secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, appealed to the public to have more confidence that the polls would stay open.

“The voting time is very abundant, so you don’t have to concentrate on voting at the same time,” he said.

By late afternoon, lines had disappeared at some locations. The voters had dwindled to a trickle at the Yau Ma Tei Community Center polling station, nestled between the city’s famous street market for jade and the graceful banyan trees of an ancient temple.

A call to expand Hong Kong’s limited democracy is one of the demands of the protest movement, which began in June over a now-withdrawn proposal that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

Protesters have called for direct elections for the entire legislature, where currently only 40 of the 70 seats are selected by popular vote. They have also called for the chief executive, who is selected by a largely pro-Beijing election committee, to instead be chosen by voters.

The district councils have no lawmaking power. They control small amounts of public funds for simple infrastructure, like rain shelters. They lodge concerns with government departments over noise, traffic, sanitation and other issues. (Of the 479 district council seats, 452 are directly elected.)

The district council members do have a modest role in choosing the chief executive, Hong Kong’s highest official. Whichever side wins a majority of the seats controls 117 votes in the 1,200-member chief executive election committee.

That election committee is dominated by pro-establishment corporate interests, and the chief executives they have selected have always been loyal to Beijing. But a win would give the overall pro-democracy camp control of an additional 10 percent of the votes, and put it close to the 150 votes necessary to nominate a candidate.

The brochures of district council candidates typically show neighborhood concerns they pledge to fix: trash-filled alleys, air-conditioners dripping on sidewalks and streets lined with illegally parked cars.

This year, several pro-democracy candidates have included protest slogans on their materials. Law Cheuk-yung, 22, said he was inspired to run for district council because of recent social movements. He said he would demand answers from the police after residents complained of possible testing of tear gas in his district, Tuen Mun.

“I want to imagine local government being more responsive,” he said. “At the moment the district council is just a rubber stamp. They do whatever the government wants.”

For such candidates, it is more about playing to the sentiment of the protests rather than taking action. They would not have much of a role in addressing protesters’ demands, which include an investigation into the police’s use of force, offering amnesty to those arrested in the protests and expanding direct elections.

“They are all trying to capitalize on public anger,” said Suzanne Pepper, a scholar of Chinese politics who lives in Hong Kong.

Establishment parties have long had an advantage in these races, in part because they are much better funded, with backing from businesses. Currently the pro-Beijing camp holds 327 district council seats versus 124 for the pro-democracy group.

Rising interest in the election has meant that pro-democracy candidates are participating in every race, unlike previous years, when some establishment district council members ran unopposed. And after worries about disqualifications, only one of the camp’s candidates, the prominent activist Joshua Wong, was barred from running this year for political reasons. An election officer ruled that Mr. Wong could not uphold Hong Kong law because his political organization viewed independence from China as a possible goal for the city.

A string of violent attacks on election candidates has hung over the race. Twelve opposition figures, including prominent politicians and activists as well as first-time candidates, have been ambushed and bloodied by gangs of masked men or attacked while canvassing for votes.

“We can see Hong Kong isn’t as free and as civilized as we’d previously imagined,” said Jannelle Leung, a 25-year-old accountant who was struck in the back of her head with a hard object in early October the day she announced she was officially running. She also said she received sexually harassing phone calls before the attack.

Jocelyn Chau, a first-time candidate like Ms. Leung who received similar lurid calls before being punched by a man while canvassing last month in the pro-Beijing neighborhood of North Point, criticized the government for not condemning the attacks on pro-democracy figures. “Not even superficial gestures,” said Ms. Chau, 23.

The polarizing pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho was injured in a knife attack this month and his offices were vandalized. He called the attack “a dark day for the district council election,” adding that the “orderly election had been completely obliterated.”

The attacks on candidates and vandalism had stirred worries that the election might be postponed. Some pro-democracy figures had said that a delay could harm their strength at the polls.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said the government would do its best to ensure the election would go on as scheduled. The government posted riot police officers near polling places across the city, though outside the zones marked with yellow tape where only voters could go.

The city had been convulsed by two weeks of intense protest, including on several campuses. At Chinese University of Hong Kong, protesters clashed with the police and occupied the college for five days. At Hong Kong Polytechnic University, more than 1,000 people at one point were trapped by a police siege.

Patrick Nip, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, warned Monday that further unrest would reduce the chances of the election’s being held as scheduled. He called for an end to violence “and all kinds of duress.”

In the past few days, protests have ebbed drastically, however, as the city prepared to take its conflicts to the polls.

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Hong Kong toVote After Months of Protests and Rising Violence

Westlake Legal Group 23hk-elect3-facebookJumbo Hong Kong toVote After Months of Protests and Rising Violence Politics and Government Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong elections Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China

HONG KONG — After months of antigovernment protests in Hong Kong, voters on Sunday will have a chance to cast their opinion on the city’s future — albeit through an election for a group of local officials who mainly deal with noise complaints, bus stop locations and neighborhood beautification projects.

The district council is one of the lowest rungs of Hong Kong’s elected offices. It is usually a quiet affair focused on community issues.

But the race has taken on outsize significance in the midst of the increasingly violent protests that have divided the city. The election will be the first test of whether the protests can transform public anger that has led millions to take to the streets into actual votes, or whether the populace has grown weary of acts of civil disobedience that have snarled transportation and forced the closing of schools and businesses.

“Politically speaking, the battle of the district councils as a whole is a crucial battle in taking control,” said Eddie Chu, a pro-democracy legislator who is also running for district council.

It has been an especially intense election season. Several candidates, on both sides, have been attacked. The police fired tear gas at a campaign rally this month and arrested three candidates. Fears have been widespread that the city leadership could postpone the vote over the unrest.

Here’s a look at the race and what is at stake:

A call to expand Hong Kong’s limited democracy is one of the demands of the protest movement, which began in June over a now-withdrawn proposal that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. Protesters have called for direct elections for the entire legislature, where currently only 40 of the 70 seats are selected by popular vote. They have also called for the chief executive, who is selected by a largely pro-Beijing election committee, to instead be chosen by voters.

The district councils have no lawmaking power. They control small amounts of public funds for simple infrastructure, like rain shelters. They lodge concerns with government departments over noise, traffic, sanitation and other issues. (Of the 479 district council seats, 452 are directly elected.)

The district council members do have a modest role in choosing the chief executive, Hong Kong’s highest official. Whichever side wins a majority of the seats controls 117 votes in the 1,200-member chief executive election committee.

That election committee is dominated by pro-establishment corporate interests, and the chief executives they have selected have always been loyal to Beijing. But a win would give the overall pro-democracy camp control of an additional 10 percent of the votes, and put it close to the 150 votes necessary to nominate a candidate.

The brochures of district council candidates typically show neighborhood concerns they pledge to fix: trash-filled alleys, air-conditioners dripping on sidewalks and streets lined with illegally parked cars.

This year, several pro-democracy candidates have included protest slogans on their materials. Law Cheuk-yung, 22, said he was inspired to run for district council because of recent social movements. He said he would demand answers from the police after residents complained of possible testing of tear gas in his district, Tuen Mun.

“I want to imagine local government being more responsive,” he said. “At the moment the district council is just a rubber stamp. They do whatever the government wants.”

For such candidates, it is more about playing to the sentiment of the protests rather than taking action. They would not have much of a role in addressing protesters’ demands, which include an investigation into the police’s use of force, offering amnesty to those arrested in the protests and expanding direct elections.

“They are all trying to capitalize on public anger,” said Suzanne Pepper, a scholar of Chinese politics who lives in Hong Kong.

Establishment parties have long had an advantage in these races, in part because they are much better funded, with backing from businesses. Currently the pro-Beijing camp holds 327 district council seats versus 124 for the pro-democracy group.

Rising interest in the election has meant that pro-democracy candidates are participating in every race, unlike previous years, when some establishment district council members ran unopposed. And after worries about disqualifications, only one of the camp’s candidates, the prominent activist Joshua Wong, was barred from running this year for political reasons. An election officer ruled that Mr. Wong could not uphold Hong Kong law because his political organization viewed independence from China as a possible goal for the city.

A string of violent attacks on election candidates has hung over the race. Twelve opposition figures, including prominent politicians and activists as well as first-time candidates, have been ambushed and bloodied by gangs of masked men or attacked while canvassing for votes.

“We can see Hong Kong isn’t as free and as civilized as we’d previously imagined,” said Jannelle Leung, a 25-year-old accountant who was struck in the back of her head with a hard object in early October the day she announced she was officially running. She also said she received sexually harassing phone calls before the attack.

Jocelyn Chau, a first-time candidate like Ms. Leung who received similar lurid calls before being punched by a man while canvassing last month in the pro-Beijing neighborhood of North Point, criticized the government for not condemning the attacks on pro-democracy figures. “Not even superficial gestures,” said Ms. Chau, 23.

The polarizing pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho was injured in a knife attack this month and his offices were vandalized. He called the attack “a dark day for the district council election,” adding that the “orderly election had been completely obliterated.”

The attacks on candidates and vandalism have stirred worries that the election might be postponed. Some pro-democracy figures have said that a delay could harm their strength at the polls.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said the government would do its best to ensure the election would go on as scheduled. Chris Tang, the Hong Kong police commissioner, said Friday that there would be a large police presence across the city on Sunday to prevent violence.

The city was convulsed by two weeks of intense protest after the death of a college student who fell from a parking structure near where the police had clashed with protesters. Several campuses have been engulfed by large demonstrations, including Chinese University of Hong Kong, where protesters clashed with the police and occupied the college for five days, and at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where at one point more than 1,000 people were trapped by a police siege.

Patrick Nip, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, warned Monday that further unrest would reduce the chances of the election’s being held as scheduled. He called for an end to violence “and all kinds of duress.”

In the past few days, protests have ebbed drastically, however, as the city prepared to take its conflicts to the polls.

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