Hong Kong's Legislative Council has blocked a bill that would have granted the city free elections of Beijing-approved candidates. The two-thirds pro-democracy bloc had called the proposed elections "fake."
Pro-democracy lawmakers united on Thursday to reject the Beijing-backed electoral reform package which sparked massive protests in the Chinese territory after it was first announced last year.
The bill would have seen long-promised elections come to Hong Kong, with the catch that all candidates first be approved by Beijing. Demonstrators calling for democracy set up a protest camp outside the legislative complex soon after, and only left when their camp was cleared out by police three months later.
The 30 legislators who support the central government staged a walkout as the bill headed for defeat.
"This motion has not gained a two-thirds majority vote," announced Jasper Tsang, president of the city's 70-member legislative council.
"I announce that the motion has been vetoed."
Beijing voiced its disappoint with the result. A spokesman for the foreign ministry said the veto was something the central government was "unwilling to see" and added that it was a domestic affair, and no other country should try to intervene.
The reform package was decried as "fake democracy" by opponents. During a debate on the proposal on Wednesday, one lawmaker likened it to a "maggoty apple" which would continue to allow Beijing to eat away at Hong Kong's special status within the authoritarian nation.
Alan Leong, leader of the pro-democracy Civic Party, said it would "go down in history" that only eight people supported the measure.
"The message that we are sending to the central people's government and the Hong Kong government is that Hong Kong people do not want to take on this fake democratic package," Leong said.
The bill's defeat leaves in place the current system, in which a 1,200 member committee consisting of the city's economic and political elite choose the chief executive.
es/jil (AP, AFP, dpa)