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Sunday, September 12, 2004

BBC > Poll blow for Hong Kong democrats

Exit polls in Hong Kong's legislative elections suggest pro-democracy parties have made limited gains while the pro-Beijing camp did better than expected.
Early results predict the pro-democracy camp will win the popular vote, but not by the margin they had hoped for.
A record number of voters turned out in what was seen as a test of attitudes towards the Beijing-backed government.
Pro-democracy leaders have forced a partial recount following allegations of inconsistencies in vote tallies.
Reuters news agency said initial results showed pro-democracy candidates had won 18 of the 30 directly elected seats - up one on the 2000 poll.
Meanwhile, pro-Beijing parties had taken seven extra seats, taking their number in 12, reported Reuters.
Results for the other 30 seats in the legislative council - elected by special interest groups - have yet to be released but have tended to favour the pro-Beijing camp.
One leading pro-Beijing politician, Tsang Yok-hing, said voters had opted for stability.
Fiercely fought
However, election officials agreed to recount some of the votes following claims by the Democratic Party that there were inconsistencies in the tallies.
They also allege that proper procedures were not followed at some polling stations when they ran out of ballot boxes, the BBC's Chris Hogg in Hong Kong reported.
All 60 seats in Legislative Council up for grabs
Only half are decided by direct elections
Other half reserved for business and professional groups
3.2 million eligible voters
Around 1.7m people - 53% of the population - took part in Sunday's vote.
There were 200,000 more voters than the previous record turnout eight years ago.
Queues formed outside some polling stations where they ran out of ballot boxes during the afternoon.
Some voters had complained that cardboard boxes without official seals were being used as alternatives.
The government blamed the large ballot papers needed this year because there were so many candidates in some constituencies.
Curtains were removed from polling booths after reports that voters had come under pressure to use mobile phone cameras to photograph their ballot to prove how they had voted.
Analysts say it is the most fiercely fought election since the territory was handed back to China seven years ago.
The vote has been seen as a referendum on the aspirations of some Hong Kong residents for more democracy.
Story from BBC NEWS: /pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia -pacific/3650534.stm

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