Hong Kong saw a record number of voters turn out Sunday to take part in an election that could determine its democratic future, as the city comes under increased pressure from mainland China.
An hour before polls closed 52.57 per cent, or around 2 million registered voters, had cast their ballots, according to government data. The previous election saw 1.8 million people vote.
At some polling stations voters were still waiting to enter after the official closing time of 10:30 pm (1430 GMT), the South China Morning Post reported.
The government said the full results are expected Monday.
It is a race being closely watched, as Hong Kong residents fear they are gradually losing their long-cherished freedom to speak criticallyand openly about the governments in Hong Kong and mainland China.
Six candidates pulled out of the race Friday in order to consolidate votes for the pro-democracy alliance of political parties, the pan-democrats, who are fighting to maintain their power to veto a controversial electoral reform bill.
The bill, which triggered the 79-day Umbrella Revolution in 2014, would see a majority pro-Beijing committee pre-select the candidates running for the city’s top chief executive position. It has so far been blocked by the pan-democrats.
The election build-up has been marred by accusations of fraud, an uncommon occurrence in the city.
Pro-Beijing supporters have been accused of offering financial incentives to potential supporters and bringing in busloads of former Hong Kong residents living in China to vote in the election.
Several voters have claimed their registrations had been tampered with by placing them in districts where they currently do not live.
Hong Kong's electoral commission guidelines warn people in positions of power and influence, such as employers and teachers, against behaviour that breaches Hong Kong's corruption laws. Using force, threats or duress to influence a person's vote is illegal.
Hong Kong has a legal and governance system separate to that ofmainland China as part of a treaty that ceded the territory fromBritain in 1997.
Hong Kong’s legislature operates within a partially democraticsystem. The public directly elects only half of the 70 lawmakers, who are known as the geographic constituency.
The other half is selected by members of professional associations, district councillors and trade groups and is known as the functional constituency.
The government's updated candidate list showed 213 candidates will compete for 35 seats in the five geographical constituencies.
For the functional constituency election, 43 candidates will runfor 18 seats in the functional constituencies.