A leader of the student-led, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong two years ago has won a seat in the territory’s Legislative Council.
Nathan Law was one of many pro-democracy candidates winning in the legislative elections last Sunday. The 23-year-old activist became the youngest person ever elected to the Council.
Law was a candidate of the Demosisto party, which he launched with another protest leader, Joshua Wong. The party has called for a special citywide referendum to let voters decide the future of Hong Kong.
The Chinese leadership has repeatedly stated that it is opposed to any form of independence for the territory. Several candidates were barred from taking part in the elections this week because of their support for independence.
Final election results showed pro-democracy candidates won 30 of the 70 council seats. With this one-third margin, pro-democracy forces will have the power to veto bills approved by allies of the government in Beijing.
An estimated 2.2 million Hong Kong residents – or 58 percent of eligible voters – took part in the elections. This was the highest voter turnout in Hong Kong since 1997, when the territory was returned to China from British rule.
It was the first vote in Hong Kong since the 'Umbrella Revolution' protests that shut down parts of the city for 79 days beginning in September 2014.
The protests started when student activists entered a fenced-off area around Hong Kong’s government offices. They were protesting Chinese plans to restrict fully free elections in Hong Kong.
The demonstrations, considered illegal by Chinese and Hong Kong government officials, were the first major test of Chinese rule in Hong Kong.
Nathan Law and two other leaders of the Umbrella Revolution movement were sentenced last month for their involvement in the protests. But all of them avoided jail time and were ordered to perform community service.
A few long-serving pro-democracy legislators lost their seats in the elections. Political observers and some candidates said the results clearly show that many Hong Kong voters want change.
The pro-democracy movement has voiced concerns that China is moving to limit civil liberties in the territory. The agreement that gave China control of Hong Kong requires the government to permit these freedoms. It also states that Hong Kong must remain autonomous from China for at least 50 years.
I’m June Simms.
Bryan Lynn adapted this report from VOA News. Additional information came from the Associated Press and Reuters. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
referendum – n. a vote of a single political question
margin – n. a certain amount or degree of difference
eligible – adj. able to participate or do something
autonomous – adj. independent, having the right to self-govern