Hong Kong elections: a slap in Beijing's face?
The results of district elections have given the protest movement in Hong Kong a boost. Roughly 90 percent of the seats in Hong Kong's district councils went to the pro-democratic opposition on Sunday. Voter turnout rose from 47 to 71 percent. Commentators discuss the potential consequences of this election victory.
China still in control
Beijing will continue to make all the key decisions in Hong Kong, Dennik N fears:
“The newly elected district councils mostly decide local matters. Although some of their members will be among the 1,200 participants in the selection committee for the chief executive, they won't even have a tenth of the total vote. The Hong Kong government no longer functions democratically. Even if the despised manager Carrie Lam is dismissed for incompetence, Beijing can still name whoever it pleases. The new supervisor might be more competent and better at feigning dialogue than his predecessor, but the whole thing will still be nothing more than a charade. China will still have as much interest as ever in destroying what's left of democracy in Hong Kong.”
Two clear messages
The election must be seen as a referendum for the democratic movement, columnist Gianni Riotta explains in La Stampa:
“On Sunday twice as many people waited in line to vote as in 2015. They know that they can only elect a fraction of the 452 councillors, they know that the Chinese communist government loyalists will be in the majority among the 1,200 members of the committee that elects the Legislative Council, the chamber of the former English colony. But they are not discouraged and are sending two messages. The first is a message of solidarity with the students who for months have been calling for the Basic Law, Hong Kong's constitution, to be respected. The second is directed at Chinese president Xi Jinping, urging him to make sure Chief Executive Carrie Lam doesn't brutally quash the young people's struggle for civil rights.”
The West is leaving David in the lurch
The opposition's success does not put the West in a good light, Tages-Anzeiger comments:
“Washington, Brussels, Berlin and Bern have supported the democracy movement in Hong Kong only hesitantly, half-heartedly and at a distance, if at all. What a difference from the Cold War, when the West showed solidarity with those who rebelled in the area controlled by the communist arch-enemy. By contrast, the West seems to view the Hong Kong protest marches as inopportune. Clearly it is keen to continue doing business with the Chinese communists - without disruptions. So the euphoria in Hong Kong is deceptive: the Chinese Goliath hasn't been defeated by any stretch of the imagination. And as far as the West is concerned, the demonstrators would be well advised not to expect too much. David has been left to fend for himself.”