2012-09-10 07:04:30

Pro-democracy movement takes lead in Hong Kong elections

(Vatican Radio) Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement has taken a narrow lead against groups allied with China's Communist Party, after a legislative election there Sunday. But the gain is not as strong as some expected. Alastair Wanklyn is following events from Tokyo. Listen: RealAudioMP3

There was a strong turnout—up 17 percent on the last one—in a poll seen as a test of support for Beijing's one-party system.

Its opponents gained an early lead but a thin one—disappointing,said one lawmaker from that bloc. Observers said splits within the pro-democracy camp weakened its showing against Beijing loyalists.

Some had expected pro-democracy candidates to do well, thanks to recent public outrage at proposals by Beijing that Hong Kong schoolchildren take mandatory classes in patriotism, which would teach among other things that a one-party system is best.

Many protesters criticized that as brainwashing, and hours before the polls opened authorities backed down saying the classes would now be only voluntary.

The standoff compounded ongoing resentment in Hong Kong at economic migrants from mainland China, whom residents accuse of filling Hong Kong hospitals and pushing up property prices.

Now attention turns to Beijing's own leadership shake-up, expected this autumn. It doesn't hold elections but reports say there's factional fighting within the Communist Party over whether reformers or conservatives should get leadership posts.

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