Pro-democracy candidates appear to have won big in Hong Kong’s local elections held over the weekend, signaling widespread support for the months-long protests over China’s control of the semi-autonomous territory.
The leader of the city’s biggest pro-democracy party, Wu Chi-wai, said Monday the bloc won in nearly 90 percent of the 452 district council seats, which will help give the party control of 17 out of 18 district councils, The Associated Press reports.
Just 21 out of 182 candidates of the largest pro-establishment political party won in the election, according to AP.
The city also reportedly saw a surge in voter participation.
Kenneth Chan, an expert on politics and governance at Hong Kong Baptist University, told CNN there was more than 70 percent voter turnout, the highest in the city’s history.
“It’s nothing short of a revolution,” Willy Lam, a political expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told the AP. “It’s a sound repudiation of the Carrie Lam administration and shows the silent majority are behind the demands of the protesters.”
The results come after months of at-times violent protests, with pro-democracy protesters angered over a since-withdrawn bill that would’ve allowed extradition to China and calling for Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, to resign.
Lam said in a statement that her government “respects the election results” and will “listen to the opinions of members of the public humbly and seriously reflect.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters Monday during a visit to Tokyo that Hong Kong will always be a part of China, no matter the outcome of the poll.
“Any attempts to destroy Hong Kong or harm Hong Kong’s stability and development cannot possibly succeed,” he said, according to AP.
The protests started in June over a bill that would’ve allowed extradition to China, which critics feared would violate the 1997 “one country, two systems” agreement. Although the bill was withdrawn in September, the protests have escalated.