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Pro-democracy parties cling to veto in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's pro-democracy opposition admitted setbacks on Monday despite retaining their minority constitutional veto in the Legislative Council. Pro-Beijing parties emerged with 43 of the 70 seats in the assembly.

The loss of two seats by the opposition Democratic Party (DP), while more radical pro-democracy parties filled that gap, prompted the resignation on Monday of Albert Ho, the DP's chairman.

Close-up of Alber Ho at a podium. Photo: SING TAO/AFP/Getty Images)

Hong Kong's pro-democrat Ho quit after his party's poor showing

Ho told a press conference that while residents of the former British colony had become "increasingly impatient" with its pro-Beijing government under a skewed electoral system, his party had failed to capitalize on this.

"I think a lot of voters have decided to choose some people who … play a much more aggressive role in the Legislative Council," Ho said.

Maverick lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, whose radical League of Social Democrats held onto its single seat, said Ho's Democratic Party had been punished because it had not dared to "stand up and fight for the people."

Meanwhile, the radical anti-Beijing People Power party added one seat to its previous tally of two.

Almost half of Hong Kong's 70-seat legislature, expanded from the previous 60, is reserved for pro-Beijing business and interest groups under a deal which saw the territory return to Chinese rule in 1997.

Popular vote skewed

Voter turnout jumped to 53 percent on Sunday - up from 45 percent in 2008 - with opposition parties hoping the gain from popular anger toward a government move to introduce a mandatory patriotism course in schools.

That proposal was withdrawn just hours before the vote by Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying, but still left the pro-Beijing bloc with 43 seats despite the fact that 60 percent of the popular vote went to pro-democracy parties.

The largest block of the pro-Beijing seats, 13 in all, went to the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Progress of Hong Kong on Sunday.

Beijing has promised one-person, one-vote suffrage for Hong's leadership election in 2017, and by 2020 for the Legislative Council.

ipj/slk (dpa, AFP)