HK’s largest pro-democracy party shuns ‘patriot only’ poll

October 12, 2021 12:00 am | Updated 06:23 am IST

Most of city’s Opposition figures jailed or disqualified

Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy party will not contest the upcoming “patriot only” legislature elections after none of its members met the party’s own application deadline on Monday.

The decision means the December polls have been effectively boycotted by the city’s pro-democracy Opposition with even the movement’s most moderate wing deciding it is not worth taking part.

The Democratic Party’s membership had been split on whether to continue with Hong Kong’s political process as authorities crack down on dissent in response to huge and often violent protests two years ago.

On Monday, the party said none had applied from its membership by the deadline.

One member, veteran Tiananmen Square activist Han Dongfang, previously said he wished to run but did not manage to secure enough nominations within the party.

Hong Kong’s government has been pushing the narrative that the once outspoken city remains politically pluralistic even as scores of Opposition figures are jailed and disqualified from standing for office.

Most of Hong Kong’s major pro-democracy parties have either disbanded or seen their leadership decimated by arrests and prosecutions.

Under an overhaul imposed by Beijing earlier this year, only those deemed “staunch patriots” are allowed to take part in politics and anyone standing for public office must be vetted for national security risks.

The overhaul has also further reduced the number of directly elected seats in the city’s legislature from half to less than a quarter.

The rest will be appointed by reliably pro-Beijing committees and special interest groups that have been vetted for their political loyalty.

Beijing is sensitive to any move that might cast doubt on its new “patriots only” political model.

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