Hong Kong's pro-China parties, led by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), did even better than expected in Sunday's District council elections, winning 115 out of 364, seats - up from the previous 62 seats. If you read Chinese all the numbers are here. English-language news reports here and here. Offers of resignations were heard this morning on the Democratic side.
Daisann McLane, author of the wonderful "Learning Cantonese" blog has just written a long post about her Saturday spent with pro-democracy politician Leung Kwong-hung - better known as "Long Hair" - while he went out to mobilize pro-democracy voters this weekend. She also hung out with Chan Po Ying, a district council candidate running in Kwun Tong under the League of Social Democrats. Daisann describes a situation in which the non pro-China vote appeared to have been split in Kwun Tong by what she called a "parachute" Civic Party candidate. The DAB incumbent won. Daisann analyzes the outcome as follows:
It is also human nature to follow the leader. And that is what the DAB is all about. They're taking orders from the Big Party over the border, demonstrating a lockstep discipline that Republican Chairman Karl Rove can only dream of. Meanwhile the pan-Democrats are trying to forge a winning team from a loud, messy family that includes wealthy barristers, feisty unionists, grassroots activists and civil servants with expensive hairdos. The DAB aren't really great campaigners. Their "platform" consists of repeating the correct party line, and their repertoire of tactics is straight out of the old school political playbook: smears, threats and a chicken and rice box for every voter. But compared to the pan-Dems, they look like pros.
She quotes Long Hair's final analysis: "We messed up the district council elections. We should have been more organized."
Through the work of my students I've been trying to follow this whole thing pretty closely. You can find more about Hong Kong's District Council elections at our Hong Kong Stories website than you'll find anywhere else in English that I know of. It's clearly student work - most had never covered an election before and some have still got some things to learn about reporting- but it gives a flavor I think for the atmosphere, issues, developments and personalities involved with Sunday's race.
Hong Kong's elections are a great testing ground for the folks up North in Beijing: They're learning how to go about winning elections against liberal democrats.