Polls closed last night on Hong Kong’s unofficial “Civil Referendum” on universal suffrage. Nearly 800,000 Hongkongers cast their ballot in the poll organized by Occupy Central and the Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong, equivalent to almost a quarter of the territory’s 3.51 million registered voters—far more than anticipated by either organizers or Beijing.
In the poll, voters were presented with three options for public nomination of candidates in the upcoming 2017 chief executive election. The winning method was the Alliance for True Democracy’s proposal that candidates with the endorsement of 1% of registered voters be able to appear on the ballot, and that conditions such as “love China, love Hong Kong” and “no confrontations with the central government” are unacceptable. Voters overwhelmingly (88%) supported a veto by Legislative Council of any electoral process that does not meet international standards of a free and fair election.
The turnout is doubly impressive considering the “national scale” cyber attacks and phishing scams originating form mainland China, as well as repeated denunciations from state-run media. In the mainland internet censors attempted to delete all mention of the poll and seized shipments of Chinese-made ballot boxes and voting booths bound for Hong Kong, whilst some of the SAR’s physical polling stations saw pro-Beijing ruffians attempt to scare away would-be voters.
By Ryan Kilpatrick