The Election Commission has announced that chief executive-elect Carrie Lam received 777 votes in Sunday’s small-circle election, whereas her rival John Tsang received only 365.

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The final candidate, Woo Kwok-hing, received 21 votes from the 1,194-member Election Committee.

vote counting ballot
Vote-counting at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Lam received 88 more votes than her predecessor Leung Chun-ying, who obtained 689 votes in 2012 – a figure which became his nickname.

Former chief secretary Lam was heavily rumoured as Beijing’s favoured candidate over the past two months, and some electors claimed before election day they were pressured to vote for her.

Blank votes

A total of 1,163 valid votes were counted. Some electors cast blank votes, and one elector wrote the Cantonese character “fuck” on their ballot paper in protest.

vote counting ballot fuck
The character “fuck” on a spoiled ballot paper.

Speaking to HKFP, veteran China watcher Johnny Lau estimated that the more popular ex-financial secretary Tsang had received less than 100 votes from the pro-Beijing camp on Sunday. This suggested Beijing may have pressured electors to vote for Lam.

“Did they really support her platform? Or did they vote for her because of Beijing?” asked Lau. “This showed how ridiculous this election is.”

“The divisions in Hong Kong society have not been healed, unless Lam can create good conditions soon, to reach out to pan-democrats and young people,” he added.

Johnny Lau
Johnny Lau.

“The ability of the central government to manipulate the election is shocking,” pro-democracy lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung told reporters outside the venue. “We have to speak for the people who don’t have votes – we want genuine universal suffrage.”

Starry Lee, leader of Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing party, said Lam’s votes showed most electors supported her. “Mrs Lam, having been chief secretary, has been communicating with different sectors,” she said. “We should put aside our ideological differences and work with each other.”

“Mrs Lam needs a team of people with close ideals, capable and willing to communicate with people. If she does so, I believe she will have a smooth governance.”

Only around 300 of the 1,194 electors are considered members of the pro-democracy camp, while the others are considered Beijing loyalists.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.