Hong Kong election: ‘Only patriots’ strengthen Beijing’s grip

Despite extensive efforts by the government to stimulate enthusiasm, election day was a modest affair.

Volunteers and candidates made last-minute pitches at street stands outside subway stations, delivering flyers as loudspeakers raised pre-recorded slogans, but most passersby ignored them.

Lines were low at polling stations across the city. At a station in the western part of Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon, three police officers monitored the passage of pedestrians.

More than 10,000 police officers have been deployed across the city, officials say, as well as 900 employees of the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission, a government agency that opposes calls for a boycott.

By 7:30 p.m., 27 percent of voters had cast their ballots in some of the most directly elected constituencies, compared to 44 percent in the last 2016 election. (Polling began an hour earlier that year.)

Ling Lui, 26, who came to the polls with his father at a polling station on eastern Hong Kong Island, said the election would benefit Hong Kong “patriots only”. She was looking for a candidate who would “love Hong Kong, speak boldly and be active”.

Paul Loy, 50, was less optimistic. He had to wait in line to vote in previous elections, he said after the vote, but this year, there were only two or three people inside his polling station. He attributed the low turnout to candidates, many of whom were new and unfamiliar faces.

Asked how he chose to vote for whom, he said, “Nothing, really. If they have, check out their site. (Some candidates do not publish sites or No social media presence.) He continued: “There is nothing you can do. Choose one by accident.

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