In a historic election, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp tilted the balance of power at the District Councils on Sunday – winning close to 400 out of 452 seats, and gaining majorities in 17 of the city’s 18 district councils.

Around 2.94 million Hongkongers cast their ballot – around 71.2 per cent of the electorate – a record high turnout not just for District Council elections, but any election in the history of Hong Kong. The election results hit the headlines in both the local and international press, with some news outlets marvelling at the unexpected result. HKFP rounds up the front pages:

Apple Daily – “District Council voting turnout at 71.2 per cent”

For its front page, the pro-democracy Apple Daily used a photo of the long lines outside the polling stations on Sunday. It said that the 2.94 million people who voted had “created history together.”

Oriental Daily – “Craziest District Council election in history”

The Beijing-friendly Oriental Daily had harsh words for the Carrie Lam administration on its front page, saying that the historic turnout was due “the government being incompetent in stopping  violence.” Also using a picture of people queuing up to vote, the paper added that the high turnout made the District Council election the “craziest in history.”

Ming Pao – “Lawmakers who run for District Council defeated, Pro-Beijing camp suffers major defeat”

Hong Kong’s broadsheet of record Ming Pao focused on the winners and losers of the election, paying special attention to lawmakers who ran for district-level elections – the so-called “double councillors.”

While pro-democracy “double councillors” like Lam Cheuk-ting, Ted Hui and Roy Kwong kept their seats, the same could not be said for their pro-Beijing counterparts: Vincent Cheng, Wilson Or, Michael Tien, Junius Ho, Ho Kai-ming.

Hong Kong Economic Journal – “District Council election turnout of 71.2 per cent sets new record”

The Hong Kong Economic Journal published a comparison chart for Sunday’s voter turnout, noting that it far exceeds all previous elections for District Council.

Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao – Allegations of underhand electoral tactics

Both Beijing-backed newspapers Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao devoted their front pages to condemning the “underhand tactics” of the pro-democracy camp, alleging that their electoral victory was gained through intimidation and violence.

Ta Kung Pao said that the pro-democracy camp had “destroyed the fairness of the election,” while Wen Wei Po made a list of the alleged offences and said that the democrats had used “every dirty trick they can.”

South China Morning Post – “Hongkongers have their say”

The Alibaba-owned English-language South China Morning Post splashed a picture of the long lines outside the polling station on its front page.

Sing Pao Daily – “Democrats win landslide victory in District Council election”

Sing Pao Daily mentioned the controversial pro-Beijing firebrand Junius Ho in its headline, saying that the pro-Beijing camp was almost “completely decimated.”

The New York Times, Washington Post & Wall Street Journal – “Banner day for democracy”

The District Council election results also made front pages in international media, with the New York Times and the Washington Post opting for photos that showed elated pro-democracy voters. The shots came from the crowd celebrating the defeat of Junius Ho.

Despite the election being at the lowest level of Hong Kong’s political hierarchy, it has nevertheless been treated as a “referendum” on the government’s performance by the public. Both NYT and the Washington Post analysed the political implications of the win for Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s governance.

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Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.