Record low turnout for Hong Kong 'patriots-only' vote

Hong Kong saw a record-low turnout for elections in the first polls under a new system where only vetted 'patriots' were allowed to run.

Just over 30% cast a ballot on Sunday, half of that in 2016, the last legislative vote.

Pro-Beijing candidates swept to victory and as the last votes were being counted on Monday, some of them chanted at a counting center: 'guaranteed win.'

Turnout is seen by observers as a measure of election legitimacy.

This year's elections were also criticised as undemocratic by some activists, foreign governments and rights groups.

Mainstream pro-democracy parties neither had a single candidate in the running, nor endorsed moderates and independents.

Most of those who called themselves moderates failed to gain a seat against pro-Beijing rivals.

Some democrats who fled overseas to avoid persecution under the city's National Security Law called the low turnout a 'conscious boycott'.

But the city's leader Carrie Lam insisted otherwise.

"I am sure voters have their own considerations, such as the current social atmosphere, and the candidates' qualities, and even the weather on the day of the poll."

"1.35 million registered voters have come out to vote, in I believe a rather important election with the support of many members of the public."

The last major citywide election was held in 2019 for Hong Kong's district council seats.

Riding the wave of anti-government protests, that election saw an unprecedented turnout and a historic landslide victory for democrats.

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