Hong Kong prepares for new leader

Media captionHong Kong’s three candidate: the nanny, Mr Pringles or the judge?

Hong Kong is preparing for the election of a new leader.

The candidate is being chosen by a committee of mostly pro-Beijing electors, rather than a public vote, which pro-democracy campaigners have been fighting for.

Carrie Lam, deputy to the current leader, is China’s choice for the role and is expected to win.

Pro-Beijing and pro-democracy groups held competing rallies outside the election venue.

Mrs Lam’s main rival, former finance chief John Tsang, is the public’s favourite, according to opinion polls.

The third candidate is retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

Calls for fully free elections in the semi-autonomous region have failed, despite intense demonstrations, known as the “umbrella protests“, in 2014.

What’s at stake in Hong Kong’s election?

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Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (centre) at protests on election day

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, who was among those protesting and was a lead figure in the umbrella movement, has called the current electoral process “a selection rather than an election”.

On Facebook, an online protest was launched called No Election in Hong Kong Now, which showed a video montage of regular citizens going about their business as the election took place to highlight how they were not entitled to participate.

Hong Kong’s 1,200-seat Election Committee will pick one of the three candidates to succeed current leader CY Leung, who steps down in July.

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Candidates Woo Kwok-hing, Carrie Lam and John Tsang pose as they greet election committee members on Sunday

Mr Leung has proved unpopular will large swathes of Hong Kong residents who consider him too tightly aligned to Beijing.

At the end of the 2016, he made the unexpected announcement that he would not run again, citing family reasons.

His successor will need 601 votes to win. If no candidate reaches this total, the top two candidates go to a second round.

Mrs Lam is nicknamed the nanny because of her background running numerous government projects, while Mr Tsang is referred to as Mr Pringles because he resembles the moustachioed character on US crisp packets.

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AFP / Getty Images

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Outgoing leader CY Leung was elected in 2012 and, unusually, only served one term

If Mrs Lam wins, she would become Hong Kong’s first female chief executive.

During the 2014 protests, the long-time civil servant took the unpopular stance of defending Beijing’s concessions for political reform – allowing Hong Kong people to choose their leader but only from pre-approved candidates.

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The 2014 “umbrella protests” were so-called after protesters used umbrellas to shield themselves from pepper spray fired by police

Hong Kong is governed under the principle of “one country, two systems”, under which China has agreed to give the region semi-autonomous status since its 1997 handover from Britain.

Hong Kong’s Election Committee includes 70 members of the Legislative Council – half of whom are directly elected.

However, most of the committee is elected by business, professional or special interest groups.

Critics say entities that lean towards Beijing are given disproportionately large representation.

Last year, pro-democracy activists secured 325 seats on the committee – the highest number ever. However, this does not give them enough seats to determine who becomes the next chief executive.

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