Pro-democracy candidates took an early lead in Hong Kong local council elections, as record numbers voted in what is being seen as a barometer of support for protests that have rocked the Asian financial hub.
By 5am local time, pro-democracy candidates had won at least 250 seats, compared to about 18 seats for the pro-establishment forces, according to local media estimates.
A record 1,104 candidates were vying for 452 seats. District council elections are historically muted affairs.
“By 5am, pro-democracy candidates had won around 250 seats in Hong Kong local elections”
Councilors wield very little political power and the campaign is typically focused on humdrum local issues such as noise pollution.
Earlier on Sunday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam told reporters: “We hope district council election will go ahead smoothly, so we can break the deadlock and restore calm”.
Vote counting was under way with official results expected Monday morning. No violence was reported during the elections.
Total turnout exceeded 2.94 million voters, a rate of 71 percent, surpassing a record from the previous legislative council election in 2016 of about 1.47 million.