Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp has won a majority of seats in the District Council – the first time it has done so since the 1997 Handover. Sunday’s elections also delivered a stinging rebuke to the pro-Beijing camp, which saw some of its most prominent leaders defeated.

Photo: Galileo Cheng/HKFP.

Over 2.94 million voters showed up on Sunday for the biggest election in the city’s history, according to the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC). The turnout represented 71.2 per cent of eligible voters – a 25 percentage point rise when compared to the previous District Council election four years ago.

Photo: May James/HKFP.

On Sunday night and the early hours of Monday, pro-democracy candidates swept one constituency after another, prompting joy and disbelief from some supporters.

Photo: Galileo Cheng.

Hong Kong’s 18 districts have long been dominated by pro-government councillors, but now democrats outnumber their opponents decisively in districts such as Tuen Mun, Tai Po, Wong Tai Sin, Shatin and Yuen Long.

Democrats such as Roy Kwong, Jimmy Sham, Tommy Cheung, Lester Shum and Kelvin Lam all won seats on Sunday, riding on the momentum of the citywide protests.

Jimmy Sham at Lek Yuen Estate, Shatin. Photo: May James/HKFP.

Kwong defeated his opponent in the Yuen Long Pek Long constituency by 4,382 to 2,584 votes, and said that the election demonstrated the unity of Hongkongers.

“This is also a warning for the government, that the public insists on the five demands,” he said, adding that the government needs to recognise how “exceptional” the result was.

Photo: Galileo Cheng.

“If Carrie Lam still believes that the public is fine with not having an independent commission of inquiry… then she must be asleep.”

Jimmy Sham, the convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front and the victim of an attack last month, won in the Sha Tin Lek Yuen constituency by 840 votes.

Photo: May James/HKFP.

“[Our victory] comes from the overall political climate, which turned the election into a public referendum. This is a victory for the Hong Kong people, not just for me,” Sham said.

Pro-Beijing camp devastated

Hong Kong’s two biggest pro-Beijing parties saw crushing defeats at the polls on Sunday, with the DAB’s Holden Chow, Horace Cheung, Vincent Cheng and Edward Lau all losing their seats.

Campaigning for Starry Lee. Photo: May James/HKFP.

DAB party leader Starry Lee barely held onto her seat in the To Kwa Wan North constituency, beating out former lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung by 1881 to 1538 votes.

Other losers included Alice Mak, Ho Kai-ming and Michael Luk from the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), as well as Michael Tien from Roundtable.

In an upset, pro-Beijing firebrand Junius Ho was soundly defeated by democrat newcomer Cary Lo in Tuen Mun’s Lok Tsui constituency. Ho was one of the most controversial figures on the ballot, and has been under fire for his alleged ties to the triads behind the Yuen Long attack in July.

Funeral items for Junius Ho. Photo: Galileo Cheng.

After Ho’s loss was confirmed, HKFP saw elated crowds cheering in the streets and popping champagne. Some netizens marked the occasion with a pun on his name, saying that “Ho is finished.”

The last voter in Tuen Mun. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

On his Facebook page, Ho described the election outcome as “the world turned upside down,” adding: “This year was abnormal, the election was abnormal, and the result was also abnormal.”

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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.