Hong Kong holds elections today for its 18 district councils. Of the total 479 seats, 452 will be directly elected, with the remaining 27 to be filled by rural committee chairmen.
While the councils hold little power in broader Hong Kong politics, the majority holder gets 120 out of 1,200-member electoral college, which chooses the city’s chief executive and Legislative Council.
Hong Kong polity is characterised by the pro-establishment and the pan-democracy camps. Historically, the former has dominated the councils owing to better organisation and funding from the mainland.
Today’s elections will serve as a signal to the Chinese mainland of Hong Kong’s anti-government sentiment. Censorship by Beijing has prevented an accurate picture of the region’s intense dissatisfaction from reaching the mainland.
The results will not affect Beijing’s stance on the protests, which are likely to continue in the near future, but a pro-Beijing mandate could lend a mainland intervention an air of local political legitimacy. A pro-democracy mandate may prompt stronger propaganda efforts to portray the protests as an outcome of foreign interference, and any consequent intervention may be labelled as a tactic to preserve national integrity.