The ball is now in Hong Kong government’s court

Hong Kongers sent a clear message to the city’s government in the local elections held this weekend. But no one really believes Chief Executive Carrie Lam will grant any substantial concessions, says DW’s Philipp Bilsky.

Until the last minute, there were doubts as to whether the elections would take place at all. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam had announced several times that the elections would be called off if violent protests continued.    

But the election day remained calm. Even Carrie Lam herself was able to cast her vote without attracting a large group of angry demonstrators to the polling station.

The result of Sunday’s district council elections could not have been clearer. The pro-democracy candidates scored a landslide victory, while the pro-government camp suffered a huge defeat. Never before had so many Hong Kong people come out to vote. This shows how important it was for the Hong Kong people to have their say.

Before the elections, there had been much speculation about how much support there still is for the ongoing anti-government protests, especially after violence on both sides escalated in recent weeks. There had been no major polls lately.

The result of the district elections clearly answered this question. The support for the protest movement is still very strong. And what is even clearer is that the vast majority of the Hong Kong people are enormously dissatisfied with Carrie Lam and her work.

A minor impact

What does the outcome of the elections mean for Hong Kong’s future? The district councils are only responsible for local initiatives and have little political weight. And the district council elections will only have a minor impact on the election of a new chief executive in 2022, as pro-Beijing forces still have more control over the 1,200-member Election Committee, which is in charge of selecting the city’s leader.